Rose plaiting guide

If you follow me on Instagram or the blog's Facebook page, you'll have seen this photo before a couple of weeks ago when I was helping out at a family friend's wedding photoshoot. It was SO much fun, I really enjoy being a groom and making the horse look perfect - I think the perfectionist side of me was in full force that day! πŸ‘°πŸΌπŸ’πŸŒΈ
The final look!
Using real roses worked the best with doing dutch braid style plaits and then sewing AND using rubber bands to secure the roses. Anyone looking for a good dutch braid plaiting guide should read this one by Austen from Guinea For A Guinness! This guide was the one that gave me the confidence to try out the fluffy dutch style instead of my normal button plaits.


Sunset ride

I've had a gorgeous few days off from social media and I have bloody loved it. I have been spending far too much time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and twitter for the couple of months that I felt like I was getting some form of brain fog/burnout last weekend. It took me an entire day to just answer questions for an exciting 'thing' coming out in early September and after that I couldn't even think of anything to write. I tried opening blogger but I just stared at my laptop, I have 5 different posts in my drafts folder and an entire page worth of notes in my notebook full of ideas and plans, but I couldn't actually write a simple tweet or share a photo on Instagram - I was experiencing my first bout of social media burnout. Something that I LOVE had become totally emotionally exhausting so I took a few days to just ride and enjoy my horses, have family days out and lunch with friends and help my mum with going through my grandpa's war time medals. 

I know this isn't the best picture but what I love about this one is that Vallu's neck is soft and round and his mouth isn't open, my reins are short and my lower leg looks normal!


Trends to watch out for: Eskadron Platinum collection

Ta-daaaaaa, Eskadron's 2017 Platinum collection has arrived and ooh is it pretty! I do think this might  just be my favourite Platinum collection so far as I really like every single one of the colours, which is actually quite rare for me  ✨
Eskadron started doing the Platinum collection in 2012 and so far I've had sets from this collection in 2013, 2014 and 2016 so you can tell that this is a firm favourite of mine! Although Eskadron have always stuck to the more 'classy' colours of black, navy, grey/silver and brown with the Platinum collections, in the 2016 collection they were brave enough to bring a new brighter colour to the table (which was the coral) so I knew we were in for a treat with the 2017 collection too.


Rocking E Cowgirl 10 questions July blog hop

Rocking E Cowgirl returns with another great set of questions for the second blog hop! 
1. If you could trail ride anywhere this summer, where would you go?
TO THE BEACH! 🌴🌊 I have always dreamed of taking my boys to the beach and riding in the sea ever since we had a family holiday in Ireland when I was 12 and I got to ride one of the ponies at the beach. We also rode up a small mountain/hill but that was not fun for me! I can just imagine Basse stumbling and us all falling down the side of it.

2. Tell me your all-time favorite joke.
Well this is not a joke, instead it's a funny line from one of the Blackadder episodes: "I think I'll write my tombstone 'here lies Edmund Blackadder, and he's bloody annoyed" simply because I've said this so many times throughout my life when I've been pissed off but everyone has always just laughed which has now made it into my favourite joke-y line to say, probably because I grew up watching all of the Blackadder episodes!


Ignore the haters

Inspired by Confessions of an Average Amateur Eventer on Facebook, I decided that I needed to have another slightly ranty blog post about bullying and jealousy, simply because what these bullies are doing has actually made me see red. I CANNOT understand why someone would set up an actual group on Facebook, made purely to bitch about certain #horsebloggers and apparently entire groups were "set up specifically just to discuss (negatively, always) peoples pages, their journey and the way they write." No. Just no. To the haters: learn to act like a normal decent human being and for goodness sake if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything! Keep your mouth shut and don't follow that page/blog if you don't like the person. I absolutely despise people who are bullies, so to anyone who is being bullied right now just keep going, keep riding and competing and show those haters that you are SO much better than them. Most likely their comments will be to do with jealousy that you are doing better than them, that you are working harder than them and achieving more things with your life. You have been noticed because you've worked your ass off and they haven't ✌🏻


Those damn tempi flying changes!

Ever since my last lesson with Ville, I've been racking my brain trying to find a way in which I can improve the way that I ride the tempi flying changes. Vallu has no problem doing a single flying change or the tempi changes, but his limit is three 1 tempis. I can ride the 3s and 2s no problem, but flying changes every 4th stride? Yeah no those are guaranteed for me to fluff them up somehow πŸ™„ THIS IS SO ANNOYING... I find it incredibly easy to ride the 3s and 2s, but somehow the rhythm of the 4s just gets to me and I start doing 'something' which causes Vallu to either change late behind, do really short/small changes or then change on fifth stride.
Then after a bit of reading on the good old inter web I found this AWESOME article on Dressage Today from 1997 and this quote from Uwe Mechlem made everything go so much better: "impulsion must be maintained during the change. If the horse makes short changes, the rider must think of extending the gait—going more forward—making them out of medium canter." In the 2s and 3s I ride a lot more forwards because I know if he slows down I won't get clean flying changes, but during the 4s I stop riding him as much, leading to over collection and a very short canter = very short changes = not clean 4 tempis. 


My favourite new breeches - Pikeur Lucinda Grip

Ever since I started riding at a young age, I've been using Pikeur breeches simply because they are known to last for years. To this day, they are still my favourite brand of breeches and even though over the last couple of years I have been experiment with different brands, I always go back to Pikeur.  This time, I've bought the Pikeur Lucinda Grip breeches in the colour night blue - you can never go wrong with navy! πŸ’™
Although they are more expensive than most other brands, I LOVE THEM. The material is great, they last and they look good. If you're anything like me, you'll spend the majority of your non-work time in breeches, so they need to be comfortable. Although these are quite plain compared to my Pikeur Piana breeches, I think they look really smart. I actually quite like the logo on the side, I know it annoys some people but for me it breaks the side up nicely!


HKM glitter over reach boots

HKM's hot news for the summer was the fact that they were bringing out these new glittery colours to expand their range of over reach boots !🌟I can assure you I was over the moon when I saw on Facebook a blurry video of their new glitter range sometime in February 2017. Gosh these are SO pretty, so of course I ordered some πŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ’Έ (I am well aware that some people will hate these, hahaa!) I ordered the black glitter boots but there are others colours (bronze, turquoise and gold) which are now on their website if you want to go have a look. 


Practise creates confidence and confidence empowers you!

I've recently been talking to several friends about the importance of confidence and positivity when you are around your horses and when riding, and it's inspired me to go on a bit of a positivity rant about this. This is a topic that is VERY close to my heart as I have been through a big learning curve during my time owning and riding Vallu and I wanted to spread a little bit of a confident/optimistic vibe out into the internet horsey land.
We all have weaknesses as riders and horse owners - I'm an over worrier and a perfectionist which you can quite easily see in my original riding style. I don't want to over do the horses in case they hurt their legs so I give them lots of walk breaks (some would argue too many walk breaks!) but then on the flip side I over ride with my hand, seat and leg aids and try to over compensate in my quest to become the most perfect rider. It has taken several years (and tbh I am still working on this and more than likely always will be) to start to zone and block out everything when I'm riding, to be a lot more quiet as a rider and focus on just the horse and I, nothing else. No 'normal' rider, e.g. an amateur like me, is going to be perfect so never judge yourself against professionals or those who seem to be perfect. I can guarantee that they will be struggling with something too.


Happy birthday Basse!

Ahh, happy birthday to my forever baby Fat Unicorn who is 15 today! πŸ¦„πŸ’œ He's been mine since he was 4 years old and gaaaahh this has made me a little teary. I'm so blessed to have had this horse in my life for so long - we were never going to be world beaters, but who cares when you have a horse with a heart of gold!
 If you follow me on Instagram or this blog's Facebook page, you'll have seen that on Saturday I had a super ride on Basse. I was really really pleased with him, and like I stated earlier he wouldn't be so happy to be back working properly if he wasn't feeling good. So I think we will just have to crack on with the work once again and try to get him to lose those extra pounds that he has gained recently! 🐷


Dressage training with Jenny Eriksson: waiting hands

On Friday I was super fortunate to have another training session within a week, this time with Jenny Eriksson! Vallu had been having a very easy week since we had a lesson last Sunday with Ville  and I didn't want him too tired for this one. It is very rare for me to have two lessons within a week as I am very picky with who I train with and those who I would like to train with tend to either live in Germany or then are travelling around the world judging at international competitions. So I can't even describe how happy I was to be training twice within a week!

At the start of the lesson I told Jenny how fantastic Vallu had been at our previous lesson and how good he had felt to ride. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have said this because Vallu decided to throw me a new curveball today and be impossibly light in his contact... πŸ™„ Like there was nothing there for me to try to create a contact with!! In the last five years that I've ridden him I believe he has only been like this less than ten times so as I was warming up Vallu I said to Jenny that I don't really know how to ride him when he's like this. If I just shorten my reins all I achieve is getting him terribly behind the vertical and opening his mouth but if I leave him alone I have absolutely no contact with him and he'll still curve BTV. I think those previous times I just gave up after warming up and went for a hack but this time there was no option but to learn how to ride him when he's like this!
What he looked like after the lesson... #sweatypone


Acavallo anatomic gel pad review

For the last couple of weeks now I've been using the Acavallo anatomic gel pad with Basse. These have been on my radar after reading rave reviews about them since last year, but I only just bought one recently when Basse's saddle seemed to need something less thick than the Mattes sheepskin pad he has but he wasn't 100% without anything underneath the saddle. He's a very difficult horse to fit a saddle to as he constantly changes shape (like they all do) but he's so sensitive that he react immediately if he feels the slightest bit uncomfortable... I still think that the WOW saddle is the best one for him and, but I just wanted to buy something to make him feel a bit more comfortable.

After researching many different brands and styles of thin pads, the Acavallo ones came out as the clear winners. Others, like Ogilivy memory foam pads are nearly €200 and I would have had to wait 3-4 weeks before it would be even shipped to Finland. This Acavallo one was €60 including delivery and I had to wait less than a week!


Dressage training with Ville Vaurio: bend around the inside leg

I had been looking forward to this for SO LONG! I don't know why, I think it's because Vallu has been so good for the last few weeks since our lesson with Jenny and I was super excited to go training with a horse who was in good health and going well! I was a bit worried about going to a new place for the first time, even though we have visited this place a few weeks ago to support a friend of mine who was competing there. I think it's because at home it's so lovely and quiet whereas I knew how busy this place would be and I was freaking out about everything that could possibly go wrong... πŸ™„ However, turns out I was nervous for no reason - Vallu was a total star, he didn't put a hoof out of place, he totally ignored my 5 minutes of being a worry fart and stayed chilled! I'm SO proud of him 🌟


Tempo and rhythm

Have you ever found that you've read an article and somehow so many things suddenly made sense to you? πŸ’‘This happened to me a few day ago when I read this Dressage Today article about the difference between tempo and rhythm. Heather Blitz answered the question about the difference between tempo and rhythm where she explained that tempo is the rate or speed of motion or activity whilst rhythm is a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. One is sequence (rhythm) and one is speed (tempo) - I loved this article since its a personal bugbear of mine because you cannot have a 'fast rhythm'! 
There were 2 really tips in this article. The first one was to do with extended trot where Heather points out that riding trot extensions should not allow the speed of the horse’s steps to change. Just to  extend the frame and length of step, whilst keeping the number of beats per minute the same as in the collected trot. Although I have ridden plenty of medium and extended trots in my lifetime, this point made it incredibly clear of what us riders should be aiming for! Heather also recommended using the corners of the arena to help by asking for a few steps of extension in the trot, and then come back into a collected trot when coming into a corner. I did this yesterday and it really improved Vallu's mediums (it was too hot and humid to even try for a proper extension!) 

The second great hint was to ride with the help of a metronome, which you can get an app for at least on iPhones. Set the metronome to be the same as the horse’s collected trot and then see what will happen when you extend the trot - the aim is to keep the same tempo and to lengthen the stride rather than quicken the tempo but it’s much easier to simply get quicker. I did this and it's super interesting to see what happens... πŸ€” After a few times with Vallu I realised that I need to be super clear about asking for the same tempo rather than rushing myself!
This was my face when I managed to ride well enough to improve his medium trots!
If anyone is experiencing difficulties in improving their medium or extended trot I really think you should try these tips, I think they could help you too! πŸ‘πŸ»


It's here! Double bridle from EquiWare UK

A few months ago I wrote about the fact that I had ordered a double bridle from EquiWare UK and this week it arrived! I was super excited for it arrive just before we have a training session on Sunday so that I can have a few rides in it and then see what my trainer thinks about it. 

But holeymoley isn't this pretty?! The best things are the padded and anatomically shaped headpiece, the anatomically shaped noseband (which is patent too!) and that the throatlash and cheekpieces made from rolled leather. I think it weighs about half of the old bridle so I'm pretty convinced that it feels much better for Vallu. My first ride in this was incredible! Even my mother commented on the fact that he looked really content and happy, so I'm actually over the moon. I just want to have a happy horse who feels comfortable.
Add Noseband is also really cut away to take away pressure from those important facial nerves


DIY make your own comfrey poultice

In an attempt to get the swelling on Basse's leg to go down as quickly as possible and to help what I suspect is either a knock or a tendon injury, I've been making him comfrey poultices. We use poultices to draw out any infection and to reduce inflammation and now that I'm fearing that he has some sort of ligament or tendon injury this time I am using comfrey. 

Comfrey (sometimes knows as 'knit bone') is a well-known healing herb with great capacity to heal tissue and bone as it contains allantoin, which promotes the growth of connective tissue, bone and cartilage. I know that it's also been used for dealing with a variety of problems such as cuts, sprains and strains, fractures, swelling and heat/inflammation. I've been feeding comfrey to Vallu for over a year now and I think it's one of the reasons why his ligament injury healed so well. But since it is easily absorbed through the skin, I thought this was the perfect time to start helping Basse's leg with a comfrey poultice especially since we have TONS of comfrey growing in our garden! 🌿
You can easily make your own poultices with fresh comfrey - you just need hot water, fresh comfrey leaves, scissors, a small bowl, a cloth of some sort, clingfilm and a bandage.


Rocking E Cowgirl 10 Questions June blog hop

You all know I love participating in blog hops, and these questions come from Allie at Rocking E Cowgirl who has one of the prettiest equestrian blogs ever! #bloggoals

1. What is your earliest, clearest horse memory?
When I was 6 and was having a riding lesson at a riding school and we were riding in the outdoor arena, I was on a slightly naughty pony who knew that he was stronger than me, and he kept stopping to eat the grass at one end of the arena and I can clear as day remember sobbing to the teacher that "I can't do it, he won't listen to me" and her reply was, "ponies give nothing for free, figure out what to do or you'll spend the rest of the lesson there"! At a very young age I was taught to figure sh*t out myself or be stuck there crying!
2. Describe the perfect summer day.
It's sunny, not too hot and the horses get to be out all day in their field. In the evening I get to go for a long hack with friends and I haven't had to rush at all throughout the day! I think the not having to rush at all would make any day perfect tbh.


Happy 15th birthday Vallu!

Vallu turns 15 today, so I think he can officially be called an Old Aged Horse! πŸ‘΄πŸΌπŸ΄ I've actually started calling him "pappa" which means grandad, it suits him now.

For the last few months he's really calmed down and started to enjoy his life... I LOVE IT! I'm so glad that after nearly five years with us he is finally able to totally relax and find life just that little bit easier. He's always been a stress head and a worrier, so to see him fully letting his guard down and finding the world a little bit less terrifying is a wonderful thing to see!


Launch on Facebook!

I thought it was about time to join every other equestrian blogger in creating a Facebook page for my little blog. For a long time since the launch of Roosa's Horsey Life in January 2013, I have resisted creating a Facebook page as I didn't feel like I would be able to provide anything worthwhile that would be different enough from my blog posts, instagram and twitter updates. Also, I write purely for fun and mainly for myself as it's a hobby that I adore and I've always been a bit nervous to go public on Facebook... However, now that I have a clearer understanding about what each different social platform requires and what this blog's followers like and dislike on each platform, I thought it was the right time to create  a Facebook account for the blog where I can post quick updates that don't require  a blog post, share companies that I like, training tips and funny photos that I don't tend to share on instagram or on here.

If you enjoy reading this blog then please be kind and go like our brand new Facebook page as I'd love you to be part of it! It can be found as @roosashorseylife or just click HERE



The problem with Basse...

The problem with Basse is that he is essentially a very lazy horse by nature. He would far rather walk than trot and he would far rather go forwards than sideways... Which is why when we train, I mainly focus on getting very quick reactions out of him from very small aids because like everyone knows, hot horses have to learn to be ridden with the leg on but lazy horses have to be ridden with the leg off! 


#rootd: grey and grenadine

Whilst I was writing the latest post of my 'trends to watch out' about Eskadron's Next Generation collection, I knew that I needed to get some of that grenadine colour into my horses' wardrobe! I really liked the flowery design over the aztec and feather designs, but then I needed to pick which one of the flowery pads... Choices, choices! I ended up getting the grey bi cross saddle pad and pairing it up with the grenadine bandages, as I'm not sure I could pull off the entirely orange outfit and I think the bandages give this riding outfit a good pop of colour without it being too in your face.

So our riding outfit of the day is
Saddle pad: Eskadron Next Generation anthracite aloha bicross
Bandages: Eskadron Next Generation grenadine
Top: Orange shirt from Sports Direct
Breeches: Pikeur Piana in dark grey


Superficial digital flexor tendon injury recovery in 10 weeks

I kept quiet about Rama's injury not only because he is mum's horse and I don't feel right writing about other people's horses without permission, but also because we were all absolutely petrified that this injury would not only be the end of his ridden career, but also be the end of him. However, months later we are now looking at potentially having Rama 100% recovered and back in full training which is why I wanted to blog about what we have done and potentially give someone who is terrified for their horse a bit of hope for recovery from a superficial digital flexor tendon injury.

So what exactly happened?
On Valentine's Day, Rama spooked when coming in from the paddock and fell over on the icy track to the stables. Not only did he fall once, but once he had managed to slightly get up he then fell over again and struggled to get up for about a minute. There aren't words to describe how scary this was - I was sure that he had broken a leg, no horse can survive falling over twice on thick ice but once he managed to get his bearings and get up again, he then passaged to his stable after we did a thorough check through of him but nothing seemed to be wrong with him. 

A week later, a small lump appeared on his left front leg, just below the knee. Nothing really noticeable, but enough to freak out both mum and I. Lots of icing and several days of hand walking but three days later it was significant enough to get mum to call the vet to come visit us. A few days later the vet came to scan the leg and we got the news that it was either a massive bruise or then a ligament/tendon injury and we would only find out a few weeks later because the swelling was too big and blocking us from seeing what the actual injury was. A deep bruise like that takes a few weeks to go away so after two agonising weeks the vet was out again, and this time she confirmed our worst fears... a 20-30% SDFT injury. And for a 19 year old horse who needs to be in constant work, this was NOT good news.


Dressage training with Jenny Eriksson: practising test riding

On Friday I was fortunate enough to have a private lesson with Jenny Eriksson, and this was my first one on one training session with her because I've been over protective of Vallu's legs and I haven't wanted to cause any proper strain on them until I was 150% sure he would cope with an hour long private training session. If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll remember that my first lesson with her was a total disaster and my second one was near perfect so I was really optimistic that this one would go well too. Just before I got on Vallu I did have a few moments of self-doubt and worrying that what if this was not the best decision regarding his legs, but two days later his legs still look good! Phew!! πŸ™ŒπŸ»
Such a serious horse sometimes!
I normally go to my lessons with the idea that we'll focus on whatever the trainer thinks we need to improve on. I always suggest something e.g. improving Vallu's walk work or polish up my ability to ride the half pirouettes, but I'm totally happy to do what the trainer sees that we need to improve. This time I decided that I really wanted to work on practising test riding. I know Vallu and I can do all the movements, now it's just a case of putting them all together in a sequence and being able to ride a big horse round a 20x40m arena! So I picked BD's medium 71, showed it to Jenny, told her which parts of the test were causing me the most trouble and then we went to work on them.


Sundayfunday: arena hire!

On Sunday we took Rama and Vallu to a local livery yard to hire out their indoor arena. Their indoor arena is brilliant, it's 25x65m, the surface is amazing and the mirrors are huge which is really helpful. We like to take the horses there every now because it's really good for them to remain used to travelling and working at a different place than at home, it makes life much easier going to shows or somewhere else for training. Since it's only 20 minutes away from us, it doesn't take too much time away from our day and it's 100% worth it IMO πŸ‘πŸ»


Ice blue Equestrian Stockholm set

Months ago I wrote about the new SS17 collection from Equestrian Stockholm (which you can read here!) where I said that I absolutely loved all of it, but I was totally in love with the silver/blue pad and bandages. If you're following me on Instagram you'll have seen that last week I received them after the parcels had done a round all of Europe trip πŸ˜† 


'Come what May – 10 questions' blog hop

I love answering questions from blog hops and can always use the help with creating more content so much thanks to Rhiannon from The Horse Is Not Black for creating this fun little blog hop! πŸ‘πŸ»
1. What are your summer goals?
To enjoy the horses! The summer months are the best months for having horses, it's warm and everything is beautiful! I want to get the boys hacking out as much as possible, going training as much as possible and then having them out on the grass paddocks as soon as there is enough grass! 🌱🌿 I'm also looking forward to having a proper photoshoot done again this summer - our last one was over a year ago!

2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?
Lots of fly spray in the mornings and turn the horses out as early as possible! In the middle of summer ours go out 5am-10am and then again late in the evening when there are less bugs, flies and horseflies. I also couldn't live without our fly masks and fly rugs, especially for Vallu who is super sensitive to the flies and he will come through the fencing if they have annoyed him enough!

3. How often do you bathe your horse? 
I wash them down with warm water after every ride if they've gotten sweaty, especially when we are using lots of fly spray. Apart from the first spring bath, the horses only get proper baths before a show, training session or a photoshoot.

4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?
Yes indeed! We are moving back to the UK at some point, but I'm hoping it will happen at the end of summer. This means we will be going to Sweden and Germany with the horses as they travel and we'll hopefully get to stay at my brother's yard in Germany, which is stunning.


Happy Basse

I often write about the fact that I want to give my horses the best and most fun life that they can have. Since we are lucky enough to have the horses at home, we aim to have them out as much as possible and every week I try to engage their brains in different ways so that they don't get bored with their work. Yes they need to focus when we are training (2-3 times a week), but especially with Basse I don't want him to turn sour from work and like it's often said "variety is the spice of life".

Since hacking on the roads is too risky (read as: lethal πŸ’€) here, I like to take the boys to our neighbour's sand track in the middle of their woodland. It's only a short track, but it's bloody hard work with really steep hills that makes them focus on where they are putting their legs! I really love going out for a hack and sometimes I miss going hacking like we used to in England, but it's SO nice not to have to worry about silly car drivers who try to overtake you on a blind corner. Here the biggest thing I have to worry about when hacking in the woods is that I don't fall off when either of the boys decide to have a sneak snack attack when I'm not paying attention and they just suddenly stop and put their head down to eat!


Kingsland Chisasib riding leggings

Riding leggings have recently exploded onto the European market, and not a day goes by where I don't see either a Facebook or Twitter advert for many different brands advertising their new riding leggings. 
After reading lots of really positive reviews on Facebook about the new Kingsland riding leggings last autumn, I was really intrigued. However my inner conservative traditionalist 'Ilovemybreeches' refused to go for it, but then when I saw Jessica's review of the new riding leggings from Kingsland Dressage this season on her blog Gee Gee & Me, I decided to go for it and try them out. 

From what I had already read, I was expecting the riding leggings to be very comfortable. They are made of 80% polyamide and 20% spandex which means that they are super pleasant to wear! πŸ‘ŒπŸ» The anti-slip 'sticky' seat is extra stiff and flexible and provides a good grip and = a more stable seat while riding than the old style ridding leggings from Kingsland that only had sticky knees. One of the biggest positives about these riding leggings is that the waistband is really thick and really holds everything in whilst still being comfortable enough to do all your horsey chores. The thin, stretchy fabric is moisture wicking, breathable and quick drying which is why I wanted them before the summer. Just don't freak out when you open the package and see the leggings, they look tiny! 😳 These 'feel' really thin, so if it's cold and windy outside I wouldn't wear them but I expect these to be so much nicer to wear in the summer than the traditional breeches which  are SO hot in the summer.


DIY mounting block

So over the weekend one of our mounting blocks decided to die when I was getting on Vallu - super good horse for not spooking and taking off with me because it made an almighty loud snap when it broke!! Instead of buying another cheap wooden stool from IKEA (tbf, they do last quite well)  I decided to scour Pinterest and see I could find any inspo for a DIY mounting block. I wanted something that looked similar to this ⬇️


Dressage training with Ville Vaurio: be determined

It's been a long time since I've had a lessons with Vallu that required trailering somewhere. Having lived the last 3 winters in England I decided that trailering even a short distance was too much in the middle of winter here in Finland and definitely not worth the risk with Vallu. He's such a good traveller that I didn't want to ruin that just because I wanted to go training, so it's no wonder that 5 months passed by before I was happy enough to take him anywhere. So finally last Sunday we had a lesson with Ville, which I was really excited about, as Ville has trained us every now and then over the lat 5 years and he knows Vallu really well as we had him for training livery for 6 months with Ville. I always go to Ville's lesson with "please help me fix this" and don't have to explain anything because he immediately knows what to do.
This time I asked for help riding Vallu's walk. It's really difficult for me to get a good walk out of him because Vallu easily goes a bit passagey, tense or BTV no matter what I do which is one of the reasons why I haven't competed him much because I know our scores would get knocked down thanks to a crappy walk. Over the years with different trainers I've been told to 'over ride' the walk, to totally leave him alone and pray for the best or ride in a near shoulder-fore feeling to try and get the best walk out of him. The leave him alone option has had the best results so far but it has been a bit hit and miss, somedays I could get 7s for the walk and sometimes a 3. When I told Ville that I wanted help with the walk, he immediately said that we just need to get him better through the neck.


11 years together!

Yesterday my wonderful Fat Unicorn had officially been mine for 11 years! It's amazing how so much time has passed, yet I still feel like we have so much more to achieve together ✨
I have so many beautiful memories with him and so much of my teen years are totally entwined with him that I feel like he has a part of my soul. I really really hope I get another 11 years with him, and even though this is probably unrealistic and won't happen, I still wish for it. I know for some people horses are just something to be sold on and a way to make money but luckily for me they get to stay with us as long as they can and become a part of the family.


Double bridle from EquiWare UK

Vallu’s double bridle is well over 10 years old, as it was originally bought for mum’s mare when she was younger and after she was retired mum could not sell it or give it away but despite me giving it lots of TLC and taking REALLY good care of it for the last 5 years or so it has finally started to show signs that it’s time to buy a new bridle. The leather has got the tiniest of cracks on the headpiece and the noseband so although I can still safely use it for now, I won’t be able to for too long before I'd start feeling uncomfortable and worried about it. 

So then started the hunt for a new double bridle πŸ•΅πŸΌ I knew exactly what I wanted, it was just finding a company that either had exactly what I wanted or were willing to create one for me. My requirements were: an anatomically shaped headpiece which is softly padded, an anatomically shaped noseband and the throatlash and cheekpieces made of rolled leather. I essentially wanted what my snaffle bridle is but with an anatomically shaped noseband and extra cheek pieces for the other bit. I first looked at BR’s bridles since this is where Vallu’s snaffle bridle is from, but after emailing them about the sizing of their bridles I realised that it would be a risk to buy their biggest size since even that might end up being too small. There was always the option of PS of Sweden, but they are SO expensive that my bank card was sobbing at the thought of paying for one. One evening I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a British company called EquiWare UK. One of their sponsored riders is my lovely friend Jessica from Gee Gee & Me blog so after messaging her and asking her lots of questions I decided to get in contact with Evie from EquiWare UK.


Be aware of the activity

Carl Hester had been in Australia doing a clinic and in one of the many blog posts about it I saw a quote of his that said: "how many strides do you ride in a 20 meter circle? You need to know." After reading this I realised that I actually don't know exactly how many strides I ride in a 20m circle on both my boys, I mean I can guess but I'm not totally sure... πŸ€” So off I went the next time I rode and I counted how many strides I ride in a circle in both trot and canter on both boys in trot and canter .... And yeah, I've had to work really hard over the last few weeks to perfect my circles so that they stay consistently nearly the same amount of strides and don't vary too much!


10 tips for organising your tack

As is well known by friends and family, I have a major tendency to buy lots of things for my horses and for myself. Over-reach boots, bandages, lead ropes, rugs you name it! I'm sure everyone has at least once in their life gone to a tack shop to buy one thing and come out with lots more things than you intended πŸ™ˆ It's like you can't stop and it's even worse with online shopping where you see something pretty in the  catalog and you end up buying another pretty sparkly thing. And eventually, you run out of space even if you already have lots of shelves dedicated for all your stuff πŸ™„
So after having had a major spring clean/clearing up session, I have thought of some tips to organise your tack efficiently so that you don’t come to hunt for that thing that you had in your hand yesterday but can't find it when you need it! 

Tips for organising your tack:
1. Make sure to have a big enough grooming bag to hold all of your brushes, lotions and potions. I can recommend the Eskdron grooming kits, they are very very good but my favourite is this Kingsland grooming bag ⬇️ It's just that bit bigger and has a slightly better shape to it. I can always overfill an Eskadron bag with all my stuff but I've never managed yet it with this one!
2. If you have a tack locker or shelves that you have to share with others, buy lots of clear plastic boxes. You can stack the boxes on top of each other and so get more bang for your buck, but it also looks so much more tidy and organised than without!

On a side note - it also helps to put your sweets/cookies/polos/sugar lumps into small plastic boxes so that they don't attract mice or other little creatures.


Trends to watch out for: Eskadron Next Generation collection

ALOHA! It's here, it's finally here the newest Next Generation collection from Eskadron! If you remember last autumn Eskadron replaced NG with the Heritage collection (which I wrote about here) and if you recall I was quite dissapointed with the loss of the NG, so you can imagine how pleased I was when I heard about it coming back for the SS17 season!
Now this collection is not for those who like the more sedate/classic colour schemes, because Eskadron decided to go big and bold and incorporate flowers, feathers and an Astec type pattern into this collection! So risky, which is why I really admire Eskadron. I can't imagine a lot of the more famous big brands doing anything like this. It may or may not prove to be popular, but well done for trying something like this major points! The colours are anthracite (black) grenadine (orangey colour) light grey, smoked blue and white.


One year 'not broken horse anymore' anniversary

How time flies! πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ I'm so happy that we've managed a year without any major set backs and no reoccurring broken pony (fingers crossed, knocks on wood πŸ‘πŸ») This time last year I was ecstatic to have the vet tell that I could start riding Vallu again after having gone through nearly 4 months of an emotional rollercoaster where during the worst times I thought I was never going to get to ride Vallu again. My poor vet, I can still remember her having to deal with me crying and shaking when she said that his leg looked good!

And here we are a year later, and I'm still overjoyed to be riding my Heart Attack Horse 🐴 I'm trying to get us out doing a medium level test as soon as possible, because he feels really happy and healthy at the moment! I'm just waiting for mum to check his saddle and for the chiropractor and sport massage practisoner to treat him before really pushing on towards competitions!


Outdoor season!

Finally! Last week I've been able to exercise both boys in our outdoor arena! I've been really feeling quite claustrophobic in the indoor as we've been using it for over 7 months now, so I was really pleased to be able to ride outside, even if it was a bit speedy at times πŸ‡πŸ’¨
I kept things really simple with both boys, just doing lots of circles and transitions in an attempt to keep them a bit focussed on me so that neither would have the time to spook at something. Basse earned lots of gold stars for being hoof perfect and not being bothered by anything ⭐️ Vallu on the other hand was near a total breakdown for 99% of the first ride outside... πŸ™ˆ Even though he'd been lunged 3 days in a row on the outdoor arena so that he would be used to it, on the day that I rode him for some reason the road was really busy and there was lots going on which meant that I was pleased to trot around the arena both ways and to not have fallen off! Here's hoping this week it will be a bit calmer when I ride him so that I could possibly even canter without being ejected off into orbit.


Training day!

Last Friday I had an amazing but hectic day training where at the end of the day I felt like I had been at a training camp for a week, my head was just full of new ideas and I had so many light bulb moments! πŸ’‘πŸ΄

In the morning, I had a lesson with the amazing Jenny Erikson and Vallu totally redeemed himself from last time! It was a brilliant training session, I was so pleased with both Vallu and myself. Of course when a lesson is brilliant that's the one time there is no photographic evidence as I was on my own. Vallu was working with me, cooperative and just the right amount of forwardness (apart from a few spooks, but those had legitimate reasons!) 
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