Saturday, 14 August 2010


At last we managed to ride today.  Hooray!  It has been about five weeks.

Dee came charging down the field to greet us and seemed very full of beans.  She shooed all the other horses away, including Red unfortunately, who then got confused about whether we wanted him as well.

Eventually we were ready and set off.  It was an interesting ride in many ways, not least because we are so out of practice.  Just as we set out I dropped a glove.  I dismounted, picked it up and used the grass bank to stand on to remount.  Dee swung her quarters out, wanting to eat the grass on the bank and I had to do a quick and nimble manoevre to get on - but did so successfully, which was pleasing.

As Dee seemed to be in an assertive mood–when is she not!—I suggested 'ö-Dzin go ahead on Red, but he was reluctant to go ahead of Dee and she had other ideas.  We could have insisted, but as she seemed to want to lead we let her.  She led off at a bold pace.  She continued in the lead the whole length of the track... and down the road... and into Wenallt woods... along the whole length of the Wenallt horse trail... back down the road... and along the track home to Briwnant.  This was amazing.  It is the first time she has ever done that since I have owned her.

So what was different about today?
Dee has been growing in confidence and is now one of the lead mares of the herd.
She is happy, secure and relaxed at Briwnant.
She is more comfortable on the trail now that we use hoof boots on her hind hooves.
I have lost 11lb in weight which I think enables me to sit more deeply in the saddle.
I have been practising a lot of sKu-mNyé (Tibetan yoga) recently and may be a bit fitter.
I seemed very able to feel how Dee was doing today—perhaps because I am thinner and fitter—and every time I sensed her becoming hesitant I pushed with my seat and talked to her or made noises until her ears flicked back to me and she remembered I was there.
I carried a whip, which I do not usually do when I ride Dee.

I do not know which factor, or combination of factors made a difference, but it is a wonderful difference.  Dee stayed as the lead horse at walk, trot and canter.  Occasionally she was clearly nervous, but mostly she was relaxed.  This is fantastic.  Perhaps I will finally have my happy hacker that I have always wanted and we shall just be able to head out together whenever we want without having to wait until there is someone else with whom we can ride.  Perhaps this is jumping the gun – but I feel optimistic.

I love this picture of Dee yawning!

Red is licking my hand in this photograph – can you see his big tongue under my hand?

My new book Relaxing into Meditation was launched yesterday.  It's available from Aro Books worldwide if anyone is interested...

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Red jumping

We have been able to watch Red jumping with Alfie at last, and here is the promised video.  It was a really hot day when this was recorded and I don't think Red was as keen as usual.

July was really crazy for me with a trip to the US, followed by teaching Up North in Whitley Bay, and then last week I was teaching at Surya Eco Yoga Camp in Cornwall.  All events were most successful and enjoyable.  Unfortunately this has meant that riding has been impossible and I have even only seen the horses a few times.  It is wonderful knowing they are so content at Briwnant.

We went to Sunnybank Equestrian Centre one evening when the Briwnant folk took four horses for show jumping.  Red was there with Alfie.  We do not know how much jumping Red has actually done, or whether he has any experience in a show arena.  It is quite a lot for horses to cope with if they have not done it before.  The arena is large and well lit; the jumps are quite fancy with colourful fills; the tannoy is loud; and there are people wandering up and down on two sides of the arena. 

Alfie entered Red into the 2ft 9in class.  There were two other classes: 2ft 3in and 2ft 6in.  Although we know that Red can easily jump 2ft 9in, I think it would have been a good idea to have entered him in the first round as well.  It would have given him some experience of the arena and Red would not have been hanging around such a long time for his class.  He got quite upset when Saffron went into the arena to jump.  He didn't like being separated from her.  Funny he should like a horse called Saffron, when it was another mare with this name that used to be a nightmare to ride at Pontcanna and yet they would give me her week after week.

Hopefully they will be taking Red over to Sunnybank again soon and we'll go and watch again.  He should do better the second time.  Alfie did manage to get him around the course but he was eliminated with 12 faults.  He did not refuse anything though – just ploughed through a couple of them!