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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Brilliant Day.

I had a lovely day today! I've definitely got right back into the swing of enjoying my horses again and am even beginning to guard myself against getting too obsessed with them again, reminding myself that there's more to life than horses and balance is the key in all things!

I rode and did some in hand work with Bella this morning. Her in hand lateral work at trot was just lovely (reminding me that if it's not as free when ridden the weak link has to be me on top as opposed to on the floor!). We finished with some very expressive Spanish Walk and then, when I asked her to bow, she lay right down! This is about the third time she's offered this and I shower her with praise and treats every time so I'm hoping it will become an established part of our repertoire soon.

This is all totally at liberty ad I have never done anything to try to force or coerce her, just enthusiastically praised any bending of her hocks while she's bowing and hoped for the rest!!! I feel really humbled and honored that she trusts me enough and tries so hard to please that she will do this for me. She is definitely my little superstar and pony of a lifetime!

I also rode my last remaining Fell Pony of the four I rescued last year. I renamed him Merlin some time ago as I never thought Bertie suited him. Merlin is 7yo now and I have been very slow to get going with him but he is the kindest, most genuine pony you could ever wish to meet (and he's Bells's best friend nowadays too!). He is now backed, his steering is really good and I'm riding him around the farm. At 13hands he's really a bit small for me (although my farrier calls him Mr Stocky!) but I love riding him! He has the most brilliant, swinging walk and he's such a kind, steady, gentle little person. Everyone loves him - humans and horses alike - and he's never any trouble to anyone. I ought to sell him but I can't really see it happening, especially as he seems so happy and content now, after all the tough times he had before.

The third great thing that happened today was Mike had his first ever sit on a horse! I got him standing on the mounting block and told him to put his foot in the stirrup and he told me that was too dangerous a manoeuvre which had me literally falling about laughing! In the end he only tried getting on to stop me laughing and did really well, even managing to sit up and relax a bit after a few minutes walking around the yard. To try something like that at our time of life takes a lot of courage, I think, and I was really proud of him. He's keen to do some more so hopefully I can build his confidence slowly, if he wants to carry on. Either way I think it's very brave of him to give it a try!

A lovely day to remember!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Vienna and The Spanish Riding School.

Vienna was very beautiful and we had a lovely break there, and The Spanish Riding School were awesome!

I hadn't flown since I was sixteen years old, and then only the once, but I loved it. I love the power of take off and love being able to see countries and the sea passing by below you.

The underground in Vienna is excellent and we bought tickets for the week so we were free to travel wherever and whenever we wanted.

The highlights of our first holiday together were;

The zoo (the oldest and only baroque zoo in Europe - very beautiful and they have Giant Pandas including a baby Panda! The animals I most fell for were the Anteaters with their big, shaggy legs, looking like cuddly toys. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera!

A music festival we went to on the banks of the Danube. The Danube is very beautiful and impressive and bopping away to a Rock and Roll band on a hot July evening as dusk fell was an experience not to be missed!

The view over the city from the top of the huge Ferris wheel which long predates the London Eye. We went on it at night so the city was all lit up below us. Very romantic!

Lanzier Tiergarten, a huge wild park on the edge of the city where we saw wild boar roaming the woods and glades. The park is incredibly hilly and was very challenging walking, and the number of very elderly Viennese people managing the steepest climbs and descents really impressed me. There are little cafes in the remotest parts of the park and we had a really lovely day there. We climbed an enormous tower which is situated on one of the highest spots in the park and the view from the top over the city and surrounding countryside, with mountains in the distance, was breathtaking!

The Spanish Riding School (of course!). We watched morning exercise and had a guided tour of the stables on the Friday, then went back on the Sunday to watch the last performance before the summer break (the horses all go to the aforementioned Lanzier Tiergarten for the summer, and I looked for signs of them there but found none (it is a massive park).

I hadn't realized that the horses doing the 'airs above the ground' specialize in only one movement each. The stallions all seemed very relaxed and content, both in their work and in their stables, and were given lots of treats while training, from a special back pocket sewn into the riders tailcoats.

In the stables the droppings are picked up every hour, night and day, to keep the horses gleaming white and unstained! They also have three saddles per horse, which made me feel a lot better about how many mine have got between them!!

There are carriage rides which start and end outside the buildings which house the SRS and I made friends with a pair of greys who were much more sociable than most of the carriage horses. I met them several times and would very much have liked to sneak them home with me in my luggage! There are a huge number of carriage horses working in the city and I wondered where they all went to at night. I noticed that they all had buckets with chutes strategically placed behind the horses to stop the streets getting soiled. Vienna is a very clean city!

This first photo is the view from our hotel window;


The square outside The Spanish Riding School;


Taken sitting at a pavement cafe;



An inner city park;


My friends, the greys, taken at Starbucks just outside The Spanish Riding School;


And The SRS itself (you're not allowed to take photos so these are a bit sneaky!!!);





The stables;





Lanzier Tiergarten;



The view from the top of the tower:






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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!