The Summer programme is evolving. Our first 4 day clinic kicks off in 10 days time with Fawn Anderson from Canada due to arrive. this one will be quickly followed up by our TREC friends putting on a Newcomers weekend with Tot Wall and Julia McHugh. Then in June we now have confirmed dates for the much loved fun camp weekend with Josh Steer and Niki Hardwick. Check out the Diary Dates page for more details. So now we have the dates in place can someone organise suitable weather please?
We all have many lessons to learn in life, some are wonderful, some are painful, and some are just about how to cope or deal with the many challenges we meet along the way. I consider myself one of the lucky ones who have great family and friends to support me when things get tough and throughout my life I have been surrounded by animals, dogs and horses in the main, who have also delivered valuable lessons of their own.
I used to say that horses were my Stress Busters – they helped me survive career challenges, in particular when unable to sleep as my busy brain refused to stop in the early hours of the morning, night after night, week after week. Once in the saddle – of usually a young, inexperienced or challenging horse I had no option but to focus entirely on what I was doing and therefore all else was blanked, at least for an hour or 2. Having left the demanding career and money behind several years ago I am now getting to practice those lessons of “Living In The Moment” in an entirely different situation, one that is being increasingly recognised and publicised as we get to live to a greater age, and is therefore being experienced by far more – the horrors of dementia.
My mother is now into the later stages of this awful affliction and although we have been through this twice previously with first my Dad and then my Aunt, we are, even now, finding and dealing with new challenges. However, the common angle is one of adapting to the here and now. Once more the lessons from my horses of living in the moment are standing me in good stead. There are many painful times to endure but if we can just find that “moment” it is possible to enjoy the fleeting glimpses of the person you know and this lets you hold on and keep going.
So once again, my lovely four legged friends are helping to keep my sanity. The occasions that I get to escape to them are being restricted by the demands of being a carer and what has been a crazy professional workload these past few months, but thanks to aforementioned family and friends I do get out to them at least to feed, skip off and on many late evenings this winter under the stars I would have been found out in the arena while they got to roll and play, just enjoying the moment. Of course riding again will be another challenge. I did get to throw a saddle up on Patrick the other week, I then got to watch him leaping and cavorting on the end of the line – well you have to laugh out loud don’t you – before stepping up into the stirrups just as an almighty hail storm commenced. So I guess that wasn’t meant to be and a week later no further opportunities have presented themselves.
So I continue to live moment by moment, minute by minute and day by day with plenty of hopes and aspirations for the coming months but no expectations as they would be a recipe for stress and I have no need for any more of that. My mother sings (rather irritatingly multiple times a day) “Que sera sera” – the meaning translated in the English Oxford Dictionary is “used to convey a fatalistic recognition that future events are out of the speaker's control” - which is rather appropriate don’t you think?
Anyway on to things that I can control – the plans for this season are coming together and the diary is taking shape. A few events have not yet been tied to a final date so do please keep checking in and do register your interest in any you think you may be able to come along to. It really will help my stress levels if we are not worrying about numbers up to the last minute ;-)
Did you know that a large number of riders are forced to retire their horses due to mechanical breakdowns that could have been prevented by a better understanding of healthy movement and balance? This happens in particular in Horsemanship students as they tend to ride longer and demand more intense physical work from their horses than other styles of riding. Learn how adding simple elements of healthier movement will protect your horse and give them a great posture under saddle so you can enjoy your horse for many years to come. Because Fawn has studied around the world with internationally acclaimed horsemen such as: Buck Brannaman, Pat Parelli, Philippe Karl, Karen Rohlf, Walter Zettl, Silke Vallentin, Michael Wanzenreid, Larry Stewart, Steve Byrne, Ronnie Willis & Aimee Brimhall,– she has been able to study all three areas of Classical, Natural & Vaquero Horsemanship and how they work together for the good of the horse. It is her unique ability to bridge the gap between these worlds that is sought after.
And last but certainly not least Josh Steer is about to become a neighbour and in addition to his popular camp weekends will be taking on a few colts for starting here through the summer and will be available for individual and shared lessons.
Oh and don't forget we hold a selection of Thunderbrook feeds so if you are in the area you can save on the online delivery charges. Usually we have Healthy Herbal Chaff and Base Mix, but with notice we can get other items in for you, just now we have some Wheat Bran, Spirulina, Cleavers and Rosehip. Daily Essentials also seem to be rather popular for those of you with good doers if you still want to make sure they have vitamins and minerals they need. We will be placing another order very soon so do let us know if you have any specific requirements.
Roll on summer - oops almost forgot - better focus on the here and now - the future can take care of itself !
Summer? Did anyone notice that happen? Well maybe for 2 days at a time though invariably after 2 consecutive good days the 3rd always seemed to bring rain or cooler temperatures and usually both together. I’m not sure how but thankfully my hay supplier managed to get a good crop in and we have a full barn which we’ve already started to use.
12 months ago our track system was barely an idea but now it is firmly established and even doubles successfully to provide turnout options for visiting horse as it did this weekend for the final camp weekend of the season. I had been a little nervous about offering a camp in September but the earlier one in July was so successful that many wanted another so we went for it and although with 10 days to go it was in a little doubt, due to numbers who could attend, at the last moment a couple more came forward and it was all systems go. Friday morning saw Niki coaching the early arrivals through a groundwork lesson culminating in Roxy donning harness and taking the first steps towards becoming a driving pony. Josh arrived at lunchtime along with the other campers and the afternoon was spent focusing on movement and anatomy before a trip over the road for an evening meal and then hot chocolate around the camp fire (the Pimms had been consumed earlier when the sun was still up). Saturday brought sunshine and blue skies again and the morning session brought an impromptu colt starting demo when Josh got to play with Niki’s lovely youngster Kudos. By the afternoon we were in the play field making use of the obstacles online and ridden preparing for trail riding. Josh left us on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning we boxed up and headed over to Ash to use the off road riding on yet another lovely morning. Almost 6 miles of grass tracks accompanied by Amber (Yasmine’s lab) mostly at a good walk, though Patrick threw some moves in the vertical direction a few times, and I think Jackie did her share of trotting and cantering due to the comparative length of Smokey’s legs. We may well repeat this format as it seemed to work really well – see you in 2016?
Our other major event since the last update was hosting another 3 day clinic with Dave Stuart in August. Yet again it surpassed all expectations and the learning and challenges kept coming throughout the weekend. After my physical restrictions of the previous 2 months a combination of (legal) drugs and regular physio sessions had me just about fit enough to take part – at least to a higher degree than I had managed up to that point during Dave’s UK stay. We have loads of homework to do over the next 10 months and the plan is to work on having my body in a better shape ready to make better use of the following 2.
And so we head into (even) cooler and wetter weather in the coming months with the challenges that it brings not just in keeping horses working but just managing land and property. One thing that the darker nights brings is a bit of time to catch up on neglected admin and to start planning for next year. Pencilled in already we hope that Dave will return, that Josh and Niki will repeat camp weekends and with a little luck we will get to host Fawn Anderson possibly in September. Contact Niki Hardwick to register your interest in that one. Tina Griffen is teaching on a regular basis over the coming months and we are happy to host other instructors subject to demand so do let me know who you’d like to see here and we’ll do our best to get them here.
August already and the grass is growing like crazy mainly due to the amount of rain it keeps getting! The track system we have set up works well in promoting movement and restricting grass intake but as we need to use our centre paddocks for clinics during the summer it means we can't let it grow for winter feed and have resorted to having it topped on a regular basis - as if Trevor doesn't have enough lawn to cut already! I have allowed the horses access to various "pods" including the new bank in order to keep it tidy - however it is clear to see even this amount has had an effect with stretched white lines showing on all 3 so we haven't achieved a perfect world quite yet.
The riding hasn't quite got on track yet either - I am currently waiting for an MRI scan to see what is going on with my back but it has improved significantly these last few weeks to the point I am now back in the saddle albeit rather restricted and uncomfortable. I'm ever the optimist so I am still heading down to Dudgeley when I'm not working to ride with and watch Dave Stuart coaching students and starting and restarting horses, even if it doesn't quite work out to plan when we get there. Every year there is so much to learn, things we thought we "got" take on a whole new level of understanding. We get to host Dave here at Coton next week for a 3 day clinic from 21st to 23rd August. There are still a couple of rider spaces and we can accommodate spectators so long as we know you are coming. Campers welcome and local accommodation and stabling less than 2 miles away if you prefer a roof, great Pub/Restaurant just across the road as well. Please mail me asap for full details.
ps if you are already booked onto this weekend you should hear from me in next couple of days with more details and I will need to know numbers for pub meals and for breakfasts and lunches - do get in touch if you haven't received a mail by Monday 17th !
After several months battling soundness issues stemming from a laminitic episode last August which had threatened to wipe out much of 2015, we arrived at Doncaster at the end of May for a 4 day clinic with Martin Black on 4 good feet albeit with only a few hours preparation in the saddle. Those few hours in the saddle included one which ended in A&E (my first ever trip in an ambulance) having had a freak fall resulting in several minutes out cold (grateful that my hat did a job or it may have been much worse). Doncaster was the perfect way to get us operating again and Patrick stepped up to show fabulous progress from last year and gave me the confidence that at least we had a chance of coping with the forthcoming Aintree experience of sharing and working in an arena with 25 horses. We had little time to worry about it though as the preparations for the event had been on going for several months with a small team helping Tina at Total Horsemanship, the event sponsor, to have everything in place for the arrival of Buck Brannaman and hundreds of spectators. Looking back it is still hard to believe that everything went so smoothly. Working with such a great team, the weekend volunteers, and ably supported by the Aintree staff was a real pleasure and then we got to share the whole thing with a lovely bunch riders and spectators, and to top it all discover that Buck and his wife Mary were actually 2 of the nicest most grounded people you could wish to meet. It was an experience I will be forever grateful for and despite the sleep deprivation (less than two and a quarter hours of sleep was had on the first night) I really hope I get to repeat. We (literally) limped home - well I did, Patrick was fine. I had a trapped nerve in my ankle and then my back decided to join in the fun and ever since we have crawled from one physio session to the next. With the arrival in the UK of Dave Stuart for July and August the intention is to make the most of every opportunity to ride with him and we managed to slot in a clinic here within hours of him landing but sadly I could only spectate though Patrick did get re-aquainted directly with him doing circus pole work during the morning session. We packed the lorry and headed down to Dudgeley Farm a few days later trying desperately to ignore the protestations of my body and with drugs got through the first 2 days albeit I didn't exactly ride just sat on top desperately hoping that moving with the saddle would start to free me up (usually helps) but it was not to be, sitting trot was painful, rising trot was excruciating. On day 3 and 4 the lovely Rosa took over the reins and did a great job giving Patrick just what he needed in the arena and then out for the first ride on the Long Mynd. I am now at home on even stronger drugs and having to face the likelihood of a change from the original plan for the Summer. Ever the optimist I haven't given up on a miracle fix though - if it can happen to horses then why not me!
(lovely photo courtesy of clairespelling.com - official photographer at the Buck UK Aintree Event)
In other news the Outlook database has been laid to rest and I have now started from scratch with Mailchimp so please check your inbox (and junk folder just in case) to see if you have received the newsletter. If you haven't but wish to be added do drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
The time thieves have been at work again, the Revenue took their chunk although I confess it was my own fault that I had left completion of my own accounts to the last minute so I should not be surprised that they took longer to put together than they should have, Then Patrick, as is becoming the norm, decided to add more demands on my time involving a lot of poulticing and stabling. Let;'s hope that is now at end!
The 2015 schedule of events is already under way and there are more events and details yet to add to the diary so please keep calling by to check them out. With regular visits from Nick Hill, and Tina Griffen, the launch of the new Trec obstacles in the playground, a repeat of the Parelli Weekend Camp with Josh Steer and our annual highlight of hosting Dave Stuart to come in August it promises to be a fabulous year. If the universe is kind then Patrick and I will get to take part in clinics with Martin Black in Doncaster, Buck Brannaman at Aintree and around 24 days with Dave at Dudgeley - please keep everything crossed for us!
Meanwhile I have another set of accounts to put together which I fully intend to get sorted before next January!
When 2014 started my plans were to continue to put a foundation on my youngster Patrick with 2 major diary events – a May clinic with Martin Black and as much time as I could fit in with Dave Stuart during his UK stay through July and August. Both provided more challenges and progress was made although not absolutely as planned. Horses constantly remind us that they are in charge of the timeline and whether it’s the length of a learning curve or a health question they invariably have the final say which is what happened bringing our summer to a premature end. As frustrating and disappointing as it was I always try hard to accept that the universe may have other plans and that a few of my angels may be steering me to other (safer?) places and what is the point in lingering over the negatives anyway as they will not change, time to get back up, dust off and move on.
2014 also brought the opportunity to connect with a particular friend from my past. Many years ago he helped me back into the jumping world after enforced career and family breaks had left me somewhat rusty. His quiet and simple approach to cross country training in particular probably was probably one of the turning points in my approach to horsemanship in general though I didn’t maybe recognise it at the time. Now he is helping me with a different approach to horse health and hoof care in particular. If you didn’t catch any of Nick Hill’s clinics here then check out the calendar for 2015 as he is returning.
Lots of changes have been made in the layout of the paddocks ready for next year. There are now a set of permanent turn out pens. My resident 3 now have a simple track system around the perimeter with stone and gravel not only to benefit their hooves but to keep the “muck run” operational through the wettest part of the year. The excess earth taken from the track has been put to positive use in 2 places – a new super-sized bank and the Coton Canyon which now needs some landscaping works to add finishing touches. A few new jumps, a bridge and a pool/sunken road are currently bedding in ready for summer clinics.
As for 2015 targets – once again it will be to Progress my Horsemanship. With Martin again in May and Dave in July and August there is now the awesome opportunity to ride on Buck Brannaman’s first ever UK clinic at Aintree in June. Just hope that 1) I can get enough homework in place before hand to be able to make the most of it and 2) that the universe and my angels are willing to let me take part – I may not tell Patrick about it too far in advance just in case he has other ideas!
Wishing you all a wonderful year, hope to catch up with many of you along the way
I somehow managed to lose October! Life remains as hectic but as inspiring and mostly fun as ever. The hoof care clinics held in October were a great success and already we have Nick Hill returning for another in November. Tina Griffen is also teaching in November and we have dates in the diary for 2015 so please check out the diary page and keep visiting for the latest news. On a personal front my youngster Patrick has been out of action recently but I am hopeful we will be saddling up again this week before the winter finally arrives! Ooh and just to wet your appetite a bit more there are new obstacles sprouting up all over the place - lots of Trec type challenges and things that will test your horsemanship and help develop your horses confidence. Bigger bank, a canyon, bridge, gate, and more jumps are just a few.
The last month has been a nightmare on all fronts. First Patrick went lame. In our vets words – he appeared “crippled”, and so our student time with Dave Stuart came to a premature end. Then my laptop on which I depend for everything suffered a hard drive failure – apparently I am one in a million – shame that I don’t share the same success with my lottery tickets!
Patrick is now on the mend though not quite back in work and the same can be said of the laptop as another 2 hard drives later I am now painstakingly having to restore individual files since the Microsoft System Image Restore and the File History restore both failed. I am not convinced that everything will be saved and the most worrying part at the moment is my mail history, calendar appointments and contacts. If I can get this out as a mailing as well as on the website it will be a miracle.
Our Summer season finished this weekend with a Trec weekend – something new for me and with it came a bunch of great new people who all have fun at the top of their agenda. The plan is to host a series of workshops in the Spring so watch this space. There are still a few dates in the diary for this year.
Niki Hardwick will be here this weekend (28th Sep) with a Harnessing and Harrowing Workshop. She will hopefully bring Rosie along to demonstrate and then students will have a go at preparing their horses to put principles to a purpose.
On 16th and 17th October we will be joined by Nick Hill and Albert Villasevil for “Diet, Movement & Trim”. This will now include an introduction to boots. Participants on this clinic can take up a half price option to attend the Saturday 18th event during which there will be the opportunity to observe professionals learning to select, fit and adapt boots including the high performance Floating Boot which Albert helped to develop.
Tina Griffin is returning on Sunday 26th October offering individual or shared lessons. While the ground stays in good condition we intend to make full use of the playground so it may be possible to get some more practice in with the fixed obstacles as well as working in the arena if you wish.
And of course it’s never too early to tell you that Dave Stuart will be here for another Horsemanship Experience Weekend from August 21st to 23rd 2015. You can put your name down now, no need to send a deposit yet, and you will get first option in the New Year when we send out more details.
Anyway I need to get back to sifting through emails and trying to recover some more data. See you soon!