Plotting Horse


More FEI World Cup Eventing Qualifier
May 26, 2009, 13:40
Filed under: Uncategorized

Show Jumping – Sanna Siltakorpi and Lucky Accord from Finland.

Show Jumping – Marina Köhncke and Calma Schelly from Germany.

Cross Country – Sanna & Lucky again.

Cross Country – Peter Thomson and Parko 4 from Germany.

And the winners are, dadadadaaa:

1. Marina Köhncke (Germany)

2.Peter Thomson (Germany)

3.Sanna Siltakorpi (Finland)

4.Karin Donckers (Belgium)

5. Katrin Norling (Sweden)

Winner’s gallop

As far as I can tell, those 5 go on to compete in the world cup. Good Luck to them!



FEI World Cup Eventing Qualifier in Malmö
May 25, 2009, 17:24
Filed under: Eventing

I spent all weekend down by the beach watching horses and riders doing their best; it was fantastic!

Now knowing much about eventing, I had no idea who to watch and film, so at first I figured just to catch last years winners. Therefore, in the dressage I mostly have footage of the Swede Viktoria Carlerbäck; unfortunately she ended up in 9th. place this year…

After watching so many pro dressage films on tv and youtube, my vision has definitely been sharpened and I was somewhat snobbishly appalled at all the head-bobbing going on during the sitting trot! Also, canter changes were either flat or entirely out of control. But, this is eventing and really, these horses and riders do an amazing job balancing the three disciplines.

Here is Anna Nilsson on Luron, who I thought had a wonderful neck arching from the whithers.

On the Cross Country course, again Viktoria Carlerbäck on Moustic de Canta

And one more

I’ve got some more video, of the winners too, but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow.



Frisky Business (but alas, the Prince of Darkness was a no-show)
May 22, 2009, 10:25
Filed under: Riding

Yesterday I rode one of my favourites at the riding school, Ozzie:

Ozzie

Ozzie

He’s 7 years old, as far I can remember, and he’s so cute! He’s very cuddly – after our ride when I had dismounted, he put his muzzle to my cheek and blew hot air into my ear! No violent wiping of drool on my shirt like the other horses do: no, he is just a gentleman (I always thought that his namesake was too, though he might have done the drool thing…). He likes to get down to work: struts his stuff, but at the same time, when he gets in the zone, he likes to be by himself: curls behind the bit. This is pretty frustrating, especially because when he’s there it seems like he’s oblivious to the leg aids as well. So, it’s difficult to ‘push him into the bridle.’

We rode half the class inside and half in the outdoors jumping ring, like around and between the jumps. Don’t know why. The dressage ring is right beside it and was unused.

Inside we did some nice leg yielding work, if I may say so myself. My instructor said “That’s how it’s supposed to feel!” and I couldn’t stop smiling. I really do prefer these younger horses, because they are so much more supple. Also, they try to do what you ask them to do, without just doing the exercise automatically because they’ve been doing it for a million years. I feel like with a more inexperienced horse, he will actually tell you when you are doing it right, rather than ‘sort of right’. About six months ago I rode a wonderful old horse, named Sammy. He does it all; and so, when we were riding squares, turning on the forehand in the corners, and I needed to relax for one corner and just sort of wanted to turn normally, he totally took over and did a perfect turn on the forehand all by himself. I just sat there!

Mechanical Horse

Mechanical Horse

Now, I was very impressed, but it also left me feeling pretty useless and like I was likely quite insufficient in my technique. It was just obvious that Sammy would never have told me what I was doing wrong, as long as he knew what
he was supposed to be doing.

Outside we cantered one way and then the other. I was a bit nervous because Ozzie, while not spooky at all, really loves to give a good buck-of-joy when he’s having fun. He’s having fun when he’s outside! I rode him a few weeks ago on the first trailride of the season and I knew there was a reason all the other riders had left him for me, last on the list. I have seen him buck 3 people off – he just does one really big one and that’s it, like a bronco. Pia adviced me to keep his head up and push him forward if I should feel him getting frisky, so I spent the whole lovely trailride scutinizing and correcting my horse’s head-height. He gave me 2 small bucks and I managed to stay on, but if he had done a row, I would have been laying in the stream beside the trail! At the end he also tried to take off, racing up on the side of the leader horse at a gallop like we were shot out of a canon! All was good…

But yesterday he was a champ – or just tired – and he didn’t do anything out of line. I kept him cantering forwards and not getting too deep with his head and neck (sure sign that he’s about to buck, and also just kind of scary to feel the whole front of the  horse drop away in front of you. You know he can’t see, and the balance is totally f****d!).

It was really really fun and afterward we all loved on the horses like they were our own.

Some things I have to work on: sitting trot! It can’t get any worse, seriously! And you can’t do a good canter depart without it! I tend to lock my hips, which I think is the biggest problem, but there are plenty to get started on!

Not engaging my core – getting better, but my instinct is still to lean forward and slump when things aren’t going my way.

Hands and arms. I’ve been working on this one for just a little while, a few months, and I’m now at the point where I try to focus on feeling the contact in my elbows and my hands are really just a more complicated connection in the line between the bit and those elbows. Class starts out okay, walk is good, but then trot gets difficult and canter too; for some reason I seem to think, at those higher speeds, that I have more control if I lose most of the bend in my arms… Explain it to me! To be fair, I’ve never used my elbows for anything before;)

FYI: This weekend in Malmö, at Ribersborg (the beach, 5 minute walk from where I live) there is the Malmö Horse Show. All kinds of stuff, including an HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing Qualifier! I don’t know much about eventing, but it’s going to be so exciting! I will definitely take pics and try to get the names straight, and report back to you!

Holy exclamations Batman!



((3-More-Or-Less Recommendations in-1))
May 19, 2009, 22:22
Filed under: Other Books

Warning: long post ahead! Maybe return tomorrow to read what you will get bored of today? Pretty please.

Update: I finished Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. I heartily recommend it! The plot really kept me reading – and I like keeping reading,* even if it isn’t purely for the words. The author can be long-winded, and frankly, his words are too long… It’s just that I don’t have a post-secomendary edumacation… I find it boring! (Uh -I’m just trying to be funny – Ian McEwan is a very talented man and if you ever get the chance, please don’t compare/contrast the two of us.)

Go!

Go!

On with the plot! I was so impressed (in contrast with the other McEwan novels I’ve read) with his get-out-the-gate-and-go plot. There’s an air balloon accident right at the start, and then it’s just go go go. I was really so impressed that his technique could have evolved or changed so drastically, that you can imagine my disappointment when I reached the end and there was an appendix, which documented that basically the entire story is real! The main plot is not a plot at all! I don’t mind when writers borrow from real life, in fact I like it, but come on – say it in the beginning, or improve upon the story. He only invented the secondary plot lines. Nice, but still. He just got me all excited and then rolled over and fell asleep.

Let me re-iterate: This is a good book!

Recently I have also read a non-fiction book by Haruki Murakami called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He is a Japanese writer, of fiction mostly; he is also a marathon runner and a triathlon-ist(?), the book is about running and somewhat about writing novels. I will here admit that I think I am prejudiced against this author because he is Japanese. I just don’t like the baldness, or type of simplicity, that I believe is an Asian trait. I may just have to read a lot more Asian authors to develop this part of my literary palate…

A few things interested me: his focus on endurance, both in running and in writing. It was nice to get a clear discussion of the physical aspects of sitting down and writing fiction. You have to train your ability to focus. It is draining. It is difficult. You must train. This is my new mantra.

Also, Murakami talks about why he started writing novels (he owned and ran a jazz bar before becoming a novelist) and it is fairly bizarre, to me. He says one day he thought, “I could try writing a novel”, he never had any ambitions to be a novelist. Okay, that I don’t get. There is no explanation, no discussion of what it is about writing or about life that makes him want to to do it. This does not resonate. Soon I will write a post about why I write – and it’ll be more in-depth, but not as weird.

Finally, there’s a strange section about what happened when Murakami ran a 62 mile ultra-marathon. Wow, I’ll definitely never do that! After 47 miles he says he “passed through” something – he had pushed himself beyond everything else in his life that wasn’t running (even pain) – his entire meaning of life, purpose or whatever you want to call it, became running, in the moment. He says that when he finished the ultra-marathon he was relieved that he had accepted something risky and had the strength to endure it. He felt a knot, that he never knew was there before, loosen. All this is written in an incredibly transcendent way, but then Murakami goes on to describe how he got “runner’s blues” afterwards – a resignation to running – and he has no idea why! He had no more desire to run, but he doesn’t know why. This was just so unbelievable to me, because what he describes to a T is that he ‘beat’ running (which is life/death: everything is life/death), the relief (undoing of the knot) was relief that he could do it! He beat life/death! Now there is no more meaning in his life, there is nothing to fight for! So why should he go on running? He shouldn’t want to, is the answer. But of course, he still needs meaning, so he keeps looking for it in the same old place. Call me doctor armchair.

Magritte, surrealism

Magritte, surrealism

Murakami’s fiction is interesting; he works with magic realism in his plots, and it is very playful. However, if you’re not into people playing with you, you might not like it. Myself? I’m too paranoid and impatient for that. But, I will read more Murakami, for the simple reason that he writes like no one else, so it’s well worth the frustration and bitterness…

*If you like to keep reading too, if you really really do, then check out Stieg Larsson‘s Millenium trilogy. Just don’t buy the all three books at once unless you’re also really into insomnia, wetting the bed and starving (they’re 500+ pages each). The first one is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; here I have to assert that it is such a shame that the original title was translated to this boring and nondescript one, from the Swedish Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, which literally translates to ‘Men Who Hate Women’. That is a great title! It is great because it stirs sh*t up; it is suggestive; it is daring. I’m going to leave it at that, otherwise I’ll go on and on and give this blog a new feminist focus.

The second book is called The Girl Who Played with Fire (directly translated – yay! But, again, why oh why would they let the first one be a direct echo?). The third is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Now, again I have to say something because this translation is also bad! The Swedish title is Luftslottet Som Sprängdes, which means something like: ‘The castle in the sky that was blown up’; not elegant, but it could be reworked to mean something similar, atleast.

Here’s the shocker: Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack before the the first novel was even published in Swedish! He was not a part of translating his books! This means that the translators took it upon themselves to change his words! That is sacrilege to a writer.

Anyway, the novels are really entertaining; gruesome, but positive, with lovable characters, if somewhat clicheed. Note: they are not ‘great literature’, but are definitely worthwhile due to themes and entertainment value.

Oh, forgot to tell you – and am too lazy, so here is a summary of the first novel. The second and third are natural sequels.



Desperately Seeking Stirrup
May 17, 2009, 17:01
Filed under: Jumping

Jumping lesson.

I picked Juvel again (see her photo in previous post) and she was great. She does get a bit excited, but is such a good girl that she listens to legs and reins no matter what. She just goes kind of crooked and wants to GO.

Twice she ran out. Caught me totally unsuspecting! I’m still not sure why she was doing that – her ears were pricked at the jumps, she was charging… My instructor said later that the second time Juvel was surprised by the jump, but I had a good line to it and plenty of time, so I’m not too sure. Because I couldn’t predict when she would suddenly lurch to the side, my instructor (Pia) told me to keep legs on and at the same time control her speed with the reins, right up until one stride from the jump. It worked, but felt a bit like I was getting in the way of her canter rhythm. I think she has a really nice rhythm on her own (with much less rider control), but of course we can’t have her running out and me barely hanging on, one foot desperately seeking stirrup.

Like I talked about last week, she is difficult to get on the bit. Thursday was much the same, if a little better – and atleast she had good chance to look at the jumps 😉 The way it’s supposed to be! And, she was Forward!

Powerful Rocket!

Powerful Rocket!

It was great to feel all that power, that potential pushing from behind. When she accepted the bit in momentary instances, she definitely felt much more connected – like compact and flowing.

The jumps were barely 2 feet tall, cross rails, and we just did 2 at a time with a 115 degree angle between. Ooh, I can’t wait til the jumps start rising higher and higher in jumping lessons! And courses! Actually, I talked to Pia afterwards about the difficulty of improving, at jumping in particular, when you only get to do it every 5 weeks. She agreed that it is a problem and that it gets complicated when it’s a different horse every time. When you know how the horse is going to react and what you need to do to get them jumping the best they can, then you can start focusing more on your position.

Right now we are getting really focused on control, and that is so important! That you can control the horse’s speed with your legs and reins (seat ideally, but for the most part we’re not that skilled) means that you can eventually reach collection. So, I can see the logic in starting now. Also, it is elementary – I mean, half of the school horses are generally bored and evade running around all charged up, but that’s what you want – Forward! You want a lot of energy – so you can work on focusing it.

That’s all for riding this week, except to say that I dream vividly of the day that I can go to the barn and ride whenever I want.



What I’m reading
May 13, 2009, 17:27
Filed under: Other Books

I read rather a lot. I don’t want to do full book reviews, but I would like to tell you a

Enduring love

Enduring love

little bit about the books I’m reading.

Enduring love by Ian McEwan – I am only on page 46, so can’t say much yet. However, I have also read Amsterdam, Black Dogs, On Chesil Beach, Saturday and Atonement by the same author. I really enjoy reading his work, as it always pays off in the end in a major way. I have to admit though, that I think atleast a small part of the feeling of the gigantic payoff comes from the fact that I have sometimes been bored stiff while reading through. Then when he turns it and reveals this magical shiny thing right in front of me, it seems so much more amazing and bright because the going has been so grey and uphill. My problem, basically is that Ian McEwan is a contemporary writer, but his voice is a 19th century one. Just a little after Jane Austin.

Unfortunately I started to read this british author’s books at the same time I started to read another british author’s books: Martin Amis. Now, I love Martin Amis (don’t tell my husband – or Martin Amis, that would be embarrasing if I ever met him or his wife) and you just cannot compare the two, but I do! They are both brilliant, but in comparison, McEwan is your uptight aunt who stares at you for too long, obviously wondering (with unbelievable distaste) what dirty places your privates have been.

The bad boy of British Lit

The bad boy of British Lit

The good boy of British Lit

The good boy of British Lit

I feel like a bully when I think of them at the same time. I now understand the smugness that bullies get out of hounding their victims.

So, to my pure lol delight, on page 40 McEwan writes “The unnamed sensation returned, this time in the form of a pricking along my nape and a rawness in my gut which resolved itself, for the third time that day, into an unreliable urge to crap.” Oh, if only he had said shit – I would have switched sides! Brilliant!

My recommendation for a first Ian McEwan book: Black Dogs. Beautiful, important, grave and deep.



The riding school
May 11, 2009, 16:53
Filed under: Riding

Thursday I had a riding lesson. I have been going once a week for two years now. We are ten adults (all women) and every week our list of names rotates and a new person picks her horse first.

I got second pick and chose Juvel (Jewel in english)

Juvel

Juvel

She is from 2000 and measures approximately 15.5 hands (as far as I can figure in comparing her wither height to the height of my nose…) She is very sweet, but at the same time the sort of horse that isn’t obvious to read. All of a sudden she can turn to you in the stall and look absolutely scarily pissed off – ears back, nose flattened and pointed and all the veins popping out in her head! She does nothing and it’s in response to nothing in particular, but after a second she seems to just forget about it and give you a little loving nudge. (Weird, maybe a mare thing?)

I am not sure how long she has been at the riding school, but she is starting to get somewhat resistant to the bit. I wish that the management would retrain the horses when they get like this; I know it’s probably mostly behaviour chosen by the horse as a response to pain or irritation at bad rein handling, but for me as a beginner it is rather impossible to learn to put the horse on the bit (which I think I am now ready for) when the horse has taken the bit and holds it with an iron grip in an iron mouth on an iron neck! Also, it is very bad for the poor horse to be holding itself in such a stressful and painful position.

I must admit that I see it as a problem, this learning to ride thing. I am learning: I am going to make mistakes. These mistakes will damage the horse somehow. If only I could feel sure that my instruction was the most effective possible and that my learning curve had the smallest possible impact on the horse. I cannot! Oh, lunge line, come to me!

This is surely a failing of these types of riding schools – with their business plan and organization they cannot possibly do the best for rider or horse. By the way here it is if you’d like to check it out: Örestads Ryttaresällskap

While I am being critical of the riding school, I also would like to state that it would probably be impossible for me to learn somewhere better, due to financial constraints. And, I really do like the school, the owners and instructors care very much for the horses and they do the best they can in the circumstances.

That is all besides the point. I would like to learn how to put the horse on the bit (consistently) so that my aids will come through. I know that it is all about the hind end – riding the horse into the contact – getting ‘forward’. Jane Savoie has a great clip about the connecting half halt, which puts the horse on the bit. Also in written form. I am still unsure about how much weight to take in the reins though. When the horse is stiffly above the bit (which seems to be the most prominent form of bit resistance in older riding school horses) how do you get it to give in the correct way?

Here is a good ‘lesson’ from Classicaldressage.net. It talks about not messing around too much with the bit, in experimenting. I totally agree! It also talks about the use of lateral work and circles to get the horse bending around the inside leg and into the outside rein. Keeping a steady tempo. Imagining a box around your hands, so that the horse will be blocked from lifting his head when you do get him to accept the bit – while urging him forward with you leg when he tries to evade by going above the bit. A lot of good information!

I think I have some of the puzzle figured out. I did get Juvel to relax some; she was chewing the bit and getting a nice white mustache. She sort of swung her head around a bit – not tossing – when I did momentarily convince her that she would want contact with the bit. She was trying, I think, to get me to maintain the connection, but I didn’t really know what to do.

I guess next week I will work on:

  1. Getting forward – driving the hindlegs under
  2. keeping a steady contact until the horse starts to flex the poll
  3. Keeping my hands in the box when I get the connection.

However, next week we are jumping! Yay! And then all the dressage aspirations go out the window…