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  1. #1

    Wink My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    I haven't been on here in ages but I realized the other day that 2018 is my 10th year anniversary of being a Hho member!
    When I first joined I was 25 with my little grey ex racehorse mare Vayamos and I used to do regular updates on our endeavours. She sadly passed away in 2009 from old worm damage induced colic. I went through a couple of horses that were not quite right before ending up with my Jae Jae who I got as a 4, rising 5 yr old end of 2009. He is now rising 13! Where do the years go? Since then I have moved to the US, flew Jae to the US, had 2 kids and moved house goodness knows how many times!

    Anyway we don't really do shows anymore so not sure this should be in this section but it is sort of training related so it might be OK!I don't have the time or the inclination to go competing, I don't miss it at all. If I did, I would go but I don't so I don't . It's really nice not having that pressure to constantly chase my tail which is what it had started feeling like. You know round and round, another show, another success, another problem, all the same old, same old. I have two kids under 4, Jae, a massive house renovation (actually rebuild) which we are 2 years into and probably 2 years before we finish and a new burgeoning career as an equine artist! I am on the cusp of gallery representation so getting my portfolio ready for the jurying plus doing my comissions has been taking up a lot of time and I am really enjoying putting my efforts and competitive nature into something that is still horse related but completely different from the horse shows. It is really refreshing for me.

    I ride Jae 4x per week and 1 - 2 of those sessions are our jump training sessions! Jae is not the sort of horse that is happy putting around, he likes to have a job to focus on and I also love feeling that we are achieving things even though we aren't competing much anymore (I did 2 shows last year and that was plenty lol). So the thing we have recently learnt is flying changes! Knowing lead changes is standard in the states for pretty much every horse and rider and they thought it strange that we had so much experience but did not have automatic changes! So that had to change! Before that happened I bascially had my whole riding taken apart and put back together again.

    Ater my 2nd child I had become very backward in my riding ( a 6 month break and two babies = nerves!), I had also been riding on my own so had gotten used to pootling around not really going anywhere or doing anything. When I started my lessons with my now trainer I was so nervous. I hate being taught!! I hate handing control over to someone else because they always make me do things a different way to what I would normally do. I have my own little system that works good enough for me to be able to do what I want to do and that's enough for me usually. Until I wanted to learn changes and then my system wasn't good enough . So I made a pact to myself that I was going to be brave and hand myself and my riding over 100% to this new trainer, I was going to trust him and see what happens.

    What happened is that I got my reins taken away!! I wasn't allowed to ride with my hands for nearly 3 months... now I didn't have no reins but every time I tried to pick up my reins or take a contact or anything I got shouted at. I had become too used to riding with my hands and not my legs and Jae was backwards and I was always knackered from kicking him and this had to change. I was also given a huge pair of spurs (!). My trainer said he had to break my dependancy on my reins and the only way to do this was go cold turkey, also if I had my reins as my trainer would say (you think you are turning but you are bumping his mouth and slowing him down!). Now I have ridden since I was 5, I went to Hartpury, have retrained numerous ex racehorses, jumped 1m35 courses as a teenager, won the area PC eventing ect so I'm not a bad rider but I was a rider with a lot of bad habits and a backwards horse.

    Jae felt so wobbly at first, he would have his head in the air and would wobble everywhere ha ha! I had to learn how to truly ride with my legs, my right leg was useless I found until I nearly got myself scraped off on the fence! I soon found my right leg then . I so wanted to touch the reins, I so wanted to keep him on the track with my reins, to turn with my reins ect but over the weeks I learned to steer him all from my legs, to stop by closing my thigh. He stopped wobbling, he stopped going with is head in the air and started to stretch down naturally and most importantly without me subtly telling him to slow down every so often he was a rocket off my leg! No nudge, kick, whip to get him off my leg, he went forwards without any of that stuff once he had his freedom *to* move forwards. At first I felt out of control but once I got comfortable to how sensitive he was to my seat I fel liberated and I felt true partnership. No longer frightened of him going forwards or putting the odd buck in because he had freedom and could work himself in a forwards maner through any excitement or freshness he didn't rush or even try to buck. And we were jumping like that!! Oh yes we didn't spend the 3 months doing this on the flat... no it was all over jumps as well. No reins, over jumps.... Jae was a little confused at first, waiting for me to tell him where to take off or checking him to get him to the right take off spot. My trainer said my eye was too good and I had to stop relying on my eye (and my reins) and instead to trust the rythm and Jaes 12ft stride. That was hard for me, I'm such a control freak.

    Once we had the forward button well established I was allowed my reins back and we started the changes. We learnt them over cavellettis first and Jae got it right away. Learning them on the flat was a little trickier. I have ridden for so long that I have forgotten what the aids are to things and I would get confused over which hip bone to push forwards, which direction to press him into but we pretty much have it licked now!

    We don't jump big jumps. I have two young children and i'm past the point of getting a thrill from scaring myself. We stick to around my 3ft comfort zone (unless its a grid where I let my trainer put them bigger ha ha ha!!) and instead we work on technicality. I have done exercises in my lessons I would *never* do on my own. Bounces to dog legs, tight turns ('there is 3 strides between that jump there and that jump in completely the opposite direction there'), if I don't get a clean change (which is happening less and less frequently) I'm not allowed to drop back to trot until I have got it. If anyone has seen US jumper classes they are like British Showjumping on steroids. I think the Americans think it's funny to see how many impossible turns they can put in and they are FAST, even the first round is fast. Now I am allowed my reins back I get told off for letting them get too long! 'Shorten your reins, stretch up, heels down, lean away from the jump and let him come forwards'.

    I have improved so so much. I will put it all to practice at a show at some point over the summer but for now I am really enjoying training at home, feeling my patnership with Jae strengthen and pushing myself to be better. We have had thrills and spills, pushing my comfort zone hasn't always been plain sailing but we are coming out of it looking so much slicker and more professional. It has been a real eye opener. If I can offer one pearl of wisdom it would be to find an instructor you like and don't be afraid to hand control over to them and not be afraid to let them push your boundaries. Also don't ever be made to feel guilty about what you should or shouldn't be doing with your horse. I feel I have a much better perspective to horse riding now I have other things in my life and I feel I have achieved a balance between horses and the other things in my life that makes me feel really happy .

    I will try and find some recent photos and add them but for now thanks for reading my update!
    It takes a good deal of physical courage to ride a horse. This, however, I have. I get it at about forty cents a flask, and take it as required. ~Stephen Leacock
    Member of the 'Ex-racers doing Dressage' clique

  2. #2
    Sport horse Bradsmum's Avatar
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    May 2011
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    Dreaming of Wales
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    446

    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    Good to hear how you are both doing and glad it's all going so well for you. Wow! Busy,busy, busy it would seem. Not sure I could ever be confident to ride without reins for a long period but maybe a wake up call that many of us could benefit from. Happy 10 year anniversary but can Jae REALLY be 13.

  3. #3
    Veteran
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    4,709

    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    Great Post - your trainer sounds super cool. I'm not surprised that you are in no hurry to compete when you can have so much fun training!

    I know the feeling of having reins taken away well - it happened a lot to me as a teenager, and still now a picture of me approaching a jump will still regularly reveal washing line loops in my reins because I seem to have reverted to zero contact!

  4. #4

    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    A great post...happy anniversary!

  5. #5
    Veteran shortstuff99's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
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    Currently Cambridgeshire! (or where ever I fancy)!
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    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    Glad to hear you're enjoying life, I've always enjoyed reading your adventures. Happy Ten year anniversary I have also been on here 10 years now!

  6. #6
    Veteran j1ffy's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
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    Oxon
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    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    Great update and it's good to see you back on here! I'd love to see some pictures of your artwork too if that's possible? You must be very talented to be close to getting a gallery spot, well done!!

    The lessons sound inspiring and fun, it's great that you've found yourself such a good trainer out there. I'd love to be in the 'love training not competing' camp but I just enjoying testing myself in front of a judge too much. I don't know why, we never get particularly high scores and I don't need the rosettes

    Pictures would be fab, I'd love to see how gorgeous Jae is looking!

  7. #7

    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    Thanks everyone! I've got to try and remember how to post pictures now lol.

    Ok, this is a rubbish video of one of my recent lessons. The day after this we incorporated turning to a related distance on one side and a 4ft X pole on the other side of the grid. We often do a day of lesson and then build on an exercise with another lesson the day after.

    https://www.facebook.com/alice.macgr...74318328268439

    Jae Jae

    My art





    Yeah it's exciting! It gives me goals which I think is good. I was so obsessed before with horse shows and this and that and yet I was never going to be brave enough to do more than what I was doing. This actually gives me a chance to be really good at something without fear of risking my neck! It's amazing how kids change our perspective, they need their mama .
    It takes a good deal of physical courage to ride a horse. This, however, I have. I get it at about forty cents a flask, and take it as required. ~Stephen Leacock
    Member of the 'Ex-racers doing Dressage' clique

  8. #8
    Veteran j1ffy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Oxon
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    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    I’ll have to watch the video later as I have a crap connection at the moment. Your paintings are absolutely stunning! That second one is amazing, such a difficult one to get right and it’s perfect. Love the movement in it!

  9. #9
    Old nag
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    suffolk
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    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    great update, love the 2nd painting, so full of life. looks like you have a real talent...

  10. #10
    Schoolmaster
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    722

    Default Re: My 10 year Hho Anniversary!

    Lovely update. Your pictures are gorgeous. And your trainer sounds amazing.

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