Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hacking through the Swedish Woods

Hey all! I know it's been a while, but I've been too busy with school to ride.  I met a new friend a couple months ago in a new Spanish class who has ridden her whole life, she and her family breed and train warmbloods for show jumping. About a week and a half ago a new filly was born! Her name is Come Fortune. She is a cute little light bay with a white marking on her face.  When I met her a few days ago, her teeth hadn't even come in yet. I spent time scratching and petting her, and she rubbed and sucked on my hand a bit.  She was the youngest horse I've ever met, so it was a fun experience.  I also met several stallions and some of the riding and breeding mares. They were all very nice.

I got the opportunity to ride one of the mares, a bay named Cocco.  She was a very pleasant horse, a real "thought-reader"  who was sensitive to the rider and barely needed to be touched to do what I wanted.  She also had one of the most lovely canters I have every ridden; it was smooth and easy to ride.

My friend and I rode on the trails, talking and enjoying ourselves, and even went of the path and into the woods and fields.  Unlike the golden and brown summer grass in California, the fields were of verdant green grass and flowers, some of which were the purple and blue lupin flowers, just like the ones in Calfornia. It was also lovely to ride through the shade of the trees and past some old farms.  My friend said that one of the old farms we passed had been used in a famous old Swedish movie, but I do not recall the name.

We walked for most of the time, but in some portions we allowed the horses to canter freely.  It was exhilarating to let loose and to canter freely outside of the arena, and I feel it was much easy to ride the canter like this.  I rose out of the saddle and could easily rode her smooth gait. It was so great to be back in the saddle on such a lovely horse and ride in the open with no pressures.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

First Ride Back

My first ride back was fantastic; I feel like I picked up almost where I left off! I was able to use my seat properly and turn with mostly my body, not my hands. I went to a large riding stable with an indoor arena and at least 50 horses and ponies total, many of which looked much nicer than the average horse I'd see at barns or pastures in California. It was quite a new experience, riding in a indoor. I rode in a group lesson, as is common here in Sweden, on a beautiful black gelding named Ben.  It became clear that I was given the most challenging horse of the group to ride.  Ben is sensitive; he requires hardly any aids at all to walk, trot, canter, and turn.  This can be challenging in some ways, as you can imagine, because it means that he often is faster than the rider wants.  However, I personally like these kinds of horses because I enjoy having a horse that is responsive and that I do not need to work hard with to get a forward gait(and I like the speed too, if controlled.  I feel like I handled him well.  I applied what I learned with Laura about using my seat to slow Ben down to a comfortable to pace at all gaits.  I also tried keeping all the visualizations she has taught me in mind while I rode.
I love Ben; he is so gorgeous and fun.

This did occur right away though.  It took a little bit to get a feel for him. I started the lesson with a warmup in walk, trot, and canter, and then the group and I moved on to jumping.  I had told the instructor that I did not have much experience with jumping, but the fences were low, so I felt confident in my abilities.  For the first exercise I was supposed to jump over a fence, circle at a set of poles several strides away, and then jump the next fence.  The first time through, I was not so successful with keeping Ben at a desireable pace, and he went through the exercises uncontrollably.  I was a bit flustered when I lost my stirrup after the first jump and when the band came of my stirrup(it was those jump stirrups with the break-away band on the outside; the instructor did not have an extra band, but I rode well without it from then on, once my heels were down).
I am about to circle here

However, for the rest of the exercises, in which more jumps were included, I increased my focus on my leg position, on posting the trot slowly, and on using my seat to slow Ben to a desired pace.  I felt like by the middle of the lesson, Ben and I were really working together.  He kept at a comfortable pace and listened to my aids.  I even felt comfortable cantering the final jump.

The trainer believes that I did a good job with Ben, and my mom thinks that my seat and my hands were much better than that of many of the other rides(she thinks I kept my hands steady and made good use of my legs to turn).  The only comment the instructor made was that my lower legs were all over the place, but I think that will improve as I develop my muscles again.

There is one thing I noticed about the teaching here that is not the same as how Laura taught.  That is that while the instructor told us what exercises to do, she did not focus very closely on techniques.  With Laura I would be guided at almost every moment--told when to fix my position, lift my hand, or to change something in my riding and reminded when to look up and straighten out. I know these are all things a rider should consider on his or her own. However I feel like with Laura's method I gain more of a solid foundation than with what I have seen of this lesson so far, although these kinds of lessons may move forward to knew things more quickly.  This is just an observation of the different teaching methods I have experienced, not really something I am picking on.  I know that how I learned with Laura is not how all instructors teach anyway. Regardless it is great to be back and to have an instructor to guide me.  I hope to continue riding here, and then in the summer I would like to train with Laura.

Well, that is all for now!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I'm Back

I know I have been gone for a long time, but I have been very busy with school. I have been studying the IB program, which takes so much time; it is an intense program.  Also I have not yet been able to ride yet here in Sweden.  However I am looking into a place and will try to begin to soon! I even have a friend here who used to ride, but he does not anymore because of how busy he has been with school.  Still, it is fun to know a guy who has some common interests.

These past few months I have tried several new things, including learning hip hop and Arabic dance and training jujutsu. I have been working on a dance choreography and I'll post the video once we complete it! The jujutsu instructor has been impressed with my strength and how quickly I learning, and I am convinced that part of this comes from riding horses.  It is fun to learn to fight and to defend myself.  My instructor thinks I can graduate to my first belt, the yellow, by summer!

Anyways I hope the riding stable works out. It will only be once a week with how busy I am with school and with how far away the place is, but it will be a lot easier to travel to sicne I can take the train and the bus on my own.  I'll try to post more often, even if it is not completely horse related!