Friday, October 26, 2012


We had great fun again out on location with Marianne McCourt photographer. I'm helping out with some of the Isle of Man Top Model competition and we dragged ourselves out in the howling wind and rain to do a photoshoot on the Andreas Airfield. The lovely Alexandra Mallard assisted again.

A little Razzle Dazzle

Courtesy of the amazing EQUUSPIX
 A little razzle dazzle never hurt anyone. That was the theory, but then I wasnʼt the one trying to steer my horse around the arena. I was however the one behind the scenes at our first ever dressage festival. A small show with a bit of shine and shimmer to give young horses some big competition experience quickly turned into a two day dressage extravaganza. We had estimated entries to be somewhere about sixty or seventy, but by the closing day we were sitting in the stable yard office with notice from over a hundred and thirty dressage-mad loons all wanting to compete. With some scrambling, much coffee, and even more hair pulling we managed to persuade all the kindly, more advanced riders from elementary level and upwards to move their tests to the following day, Sunday. Even with a new judge flown in for the day, the classes were run with absolutely no time to spare. Thankfully, a fantastic crew of stewards, door staff, and ground crew rallied all the riders in and out of the main arena without much complication. I had the advantage of being busy in the warm up co-judging the ʻbest turned outʼ class. Advantageous in that I was well out of the firing line but still able to keep an eye on things and jump in when
things got a little hot!

Judging The Best Turned Out. 
 Apart from the endless running about, it was so much fun to be part of the competition scene again — even if only on the ground. The big horse is literally chomping at the bit to get out and compete, but heʼs just between levels and Iʼm saving him for next season so we can really have a crack at it. I quickly tacked him up towards the end of the first day of competition to give him a chance to see some other horses as usually Iʼm riding on my own. Being 18 3, he was already a little overwhelming to ride in the warm up, but I probably made it harder when I bellowed at someone who thought it was a good idea to go for a canter across our newly seeded grass on the way back to the horseboxes. Needless to say, she performed a particularly quick transition back to walk. I then had my end of the warm up to myself as I think everyone was terrified I might explode again in their direction. (No explosions. Well, none that werenʼt deliberate.)

Both Boys are Frazzled!
IT Always Looks Like I'm Being Told Off.

This weeks training clinic has been a delight. He has been so willing about the work.
Everythingʼs established in his very large head, and now all we have to do is let his large
body catch up. Itʼs exciting to be working on things like passage and canter pirouettes. It
feeds into my gay childhood daydream of being a dancer. Officially now I can ponce about
and pass it off as work. In fact, at a clinic last year a very distinguished Olympic trainer as
a term of endearment gushed, “Oh Ivan, you look like a fairy up there.” How close to the
truth people can be!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Old Model

 It never rains but it pours and itʼs pouring cats and dogs. I feel like such an old man in this weather, eternally talking about the change of seasons. And with all this cold, I feel like Methuselah as I flounder out of the bed in the morning. I console myself by the fact that Iʼm struggling out of bed because Iʼm going to hit the gym at six am. After one barely chewable bowl of oats and a decaf coffee (thereʼs no way Iʼm leaving the building coherently without at least the fantasy of caffeine), Iʼm out in the cold and rain on the way to some weightlifting. Now, these last few mornings itʼs all about being wrapped up in fleecy layers again, pretending the winter isnʼt nearly here. My gym routine is a bit all over the place lately, but the six am sessions make sure I donʼt have
an excuse to skip it later in the day when my brain has dissolved and all I want to do is sit and vegetate on the couch.

  I did do a couple of promotional photo shoots for The Isle of Man Top Model competition last month with the wonderful photographer Marianne McCourt, which means I mustnʼt be too far over the hill. Itʼs great to be back in front of the camera again, and for once without a horse.

Isle of Man Top Model Promo Shoot


The horses themselves have all been busy elsewhere. The big horse is having some time to work over poles to help him engage in the flying changes and give him more expression. After a few days kicking poles around the arena like he was a football player, he pulled it together and we were soon pinging about the indoor. Now it just seems too easy for him, so heʼs decided to try to make it more entertaining and pretend to be a puissance showjumper. Anyone who knows me from times past will know leaving the ground, even intentionally, is not my forte. Luckily, this upcoming week my trainer is coming back. Iʼll leave it to him to sort us out. The rest of the horses thankfully are all behaving like they should — huddling around the gates in the evening, thankful to be coming in to warm stables and even warmer rugs. With the cooler nights theyʼre all into thicker blankets, and itʼs reassuring to see them munching away contentedly in their boxes. Itʼs also a reminder to pull out the winter socks, and that each pair of boots I own has a hole in them. On rereading this, I realize that each pair of wooly socks has a hole too. My old-man complex isnʼt helped by the fact that Iʼm hobbling about stiffly on one leg. I had an abrupt, airborne discussion with a bucking horse recently. I won that argument, yet somehow Iʼm the one tottering about.

 Don Rosario in his moist recent Training Clinic

Moving by in a Blur

I did, however, have the fantastic Claire Townsend of Equilibrium Therapy on hand to sort it out. There arenʼt many women I let get their hands on me, but Clare has managed to ease every ache that Iʼve gotten as I ponce about on my dressage horses, as well as untwist all the knots I get from lifting in the gym everyday. Clare also works on some of the horses, making sure that whatever knots and twists I do get donʼt influence them too much. Clare has oodles of talent as a practitioner, and enough frankness to overrule any justifications I invent for doing something I shouldnʼt. Thankfully she doesnʼt see me so often so Iʼm able get away with a few things.

Clare Townsend Neuromuscular Therapist
Clare Townsend Neuromuscular Therapist