Saturday, December 5, 2015

Thinking Over Over Thinking


Autumn has slipped through the door and taken a seat at the table. Unnoticed and quiet. The summer has sped past without marker or sign until the evenings threw their cloak over and the trees begin to shake off their petticoats. Cold nights now herald wooly coats for horses and warm blankets, a sure sign winter has set forth and it’s time to pull out the wooly socks. Shows slow down here to a crawl over the winter which gives me an opportunity to take stock. That’s the habit at least.


 I’ve been told that it’s a Celtic thing to do this, sit and mull and muse. I often liken myself to some unknown poet wandering around the countryside arguing to the wind. I most definitely have the inclination to over think and get stuck in thought.

I think the time has come to step out of dreams and thoughts and step up to action. I’ve done my time I believe, preparing and sorting through and getting myself “primed” Now it’s time to let go of thought and allow all that work to have it’s effect. Rex has been preparing me for such a long time and he’s ready to stride into the limelight.

We’ve done a few shows lately and the scores and comments seem to confirm this. He’s much more   comfortable in the show ring than I am. I’ve never thought of myself as a nervous show rider but something is happening between the warm up and the main arena.    
                                   Whatever it is, It’s time to stop thinking and start doing.

Cream Coloured Ponies


Every corner I turn in my equestrian life I seem to bump headlong into a cream horse or pony. If you scroll down to the last blog you’ll read the story of Parsnip but it’s worth mentioning why these coloured horses are so dear to me. The very first pony I had formal lessons on was a little Welsh cross called Ned. He could also without any hesitation be called a little sod. I learned so much from Ned, my first jump, my first gallop and my first fall were all off Ned. I have to admit though, he set me on a determined path for this horse life.

One of the yardsticks of progress at my first riding school was moving up onto the larger horses. I dreamed about the day when I would be allowed to ride Rocky, an Irish Draught - Connemara cross who was palamino. Since moving on from Ned and Rocky many creamies have come into my life, one that stands out right now is Romeo. 




Romeo and I met over a year ago with his owner Claire and it’s been such an incredible journey. Claire has been careful enough to take the time to really help Romeo understand the basics of dressage. For as many nights I’ve spent with Claire out in the rain in the winter perfecting work for the show season, I’m sure Claire has spent many more. It’s wonderful to see that when you match this dedication with systematic training it allows for a horse to really blossom. 


We took our first trip together to the Area Dressage Festival at Aintree. Romeo took everything in his stride and Claire did an incredible job gaining some super scores and comments from judges. It was an extra treat for me to see the names of horses that brought me back to a time when horses were a simple pleasure and I was a boy who’s head was filled with dreams hanging out at Tony Mullins racing yard.

 
The first horse I sat on was a racing mare called Singing Milly. Years later the mares son was racing at Galway  and I was teaching the jockeys daughter.  



                                                                               
You never get too far from your roots.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Carrots and Parsnip

I’ve never been a fan of vegetables no matter how good they are for you. I went through a stage of telling people I was allergic to chlorophyll to avoid eating anything green. I did however recently have my mind changed towards parsnips.  


I met with Parsnip not long after I moved to the island and being kin folk there was an immediate fellowship, then again being Irish there was something else we had in common, stubbornness! Through the last couple of years my relationship with Parsnip has been tried and tested. We butted heads on more than one occasion and many a sleepless night I’ve spent exploring the deepest depths of my knowledge trying to find ways to help him be more cooperative.


Stick and carrot won out in the end only after Parsnip and I had our first proper bonding moment when he led me around Equifest show grounds in Peterborough when my nerves were frayed on a friends show horse. At that point Parsnip had never left the Isle of Man for such a large show but with a roll of his eye he took the lead and escorted me back to safety.
 
From then on I felt a little more inclined to be patient with him.
Parsnip and his rider Eve continued to surprise me and there have been moments of pure pleasure watching them work. I’ve watched them, like an adoring albeit dubious parent taking their first steps of shoulder in, leg yield and counter canter.
 

Little achievements have blossomed into great triumphs. I’m proud to be part of his journey as he teaches his rider (And me) to love vegetables.