Last Sunday Ooruk and I had a really nice training session working with my coach Summer McEwan (that’s her on the ground in the second photo below).
The neat thing about this particular training was that Stefan was home, and he took a series of photos of us training the piaffe, which I can now share with you! Parenthetically, it’s probably more correct to call it half-steps than piaffe at this point, although I am certainly thinking “on-the-spot”.
This photo series provides a nice snap-shot of our on-going work towards developing improved balance and self-carriage. These concepts have really been the theme of our training this summer!
Click on any photo to see it larger.
We began introducing these concepts to this horse on long-lines and through work in-hand earlier this summer. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, which I will address in a future article!
I must say, we are really lucky to live in this area where we can take advantage of so many opportunities to train, learn, and improve!
I just came back from riding in a clinic this past Thursday, April 3rd, with Russell Guire of Centaur Biomechanics. It was held at Whitaker Stables near Orangeville, Ontario.
Russell has an interesting and impressive background. After graduating from Equine Sport Science at University in England, Russell started his own company which focuses on the biomechanics of the performance horse and rider.
Warming up in the Visualise jacket
Russell has been involved with a lot of advanced scientific research into improving the performance of equine athletes, including Great Britain’s Gold Medal Dressage Team. Russell is also the designer of Visualise Sportswear, a line of jackets which allow you and your trainer to see and correct problems and weaknesses in your position.
Ooruk and I started off with a short warm-up during the last fifteen minutes of the previous rider’s lesson. Then Russell asked me about my horse and my goals with him, what I saw as our weaknesses, and what I would like to wave a magic wand at and have fixed. The Visualise jacket was there to show the alignment of my position relative to the horse, and to assist with this, Russell fixed white dots onto the middle of the back of the saddle and Ooruk’s croup.
Alignment stripes, and the dots on Mr. Big Bum (I’m very proud of how his muscling is developing)
We then immediately dove in to our lesson with riding canter half-passes left and right while Russell videoed us with the high-speed camera. This camera shoots 300 frames per second, versus a normal video camera which does 60 frames per second. As as result it captures every nuance and shows it to you in slow motion, and afterwards we all headed over to the big computer screens set up in the corner, to watch and analyze what we were seeing.
Then it was back out for more exercises, video them, analyze, and repeat. There was an audience of auditors, to whom I was pleased to be able to show the capabilities of a well-trained Fjordhorse.
Russell gave me fine-tuning tips related to the carriage of my horse and the way in which I needed to have him react to my aids. In one way it was all a rephrasing of what my regular coach and clinician have been saying, but in slightly different words and from a slightly different perspective with slightly different exercises. So although the magic wand never exactly waved for me, it was all quite helpful once I had processed it through in my head.
Click on any image in the gallery to see it larger.
Here’s a video clip showing the output of the high speed camera. The three and a half minute clip was about 45 seconds in real time, and shows us doing a canter-trot transition on the 20 m circle as we check my alignment and the effectiveness of my aids on the horse’s way of going.
I am keen to put my new knowledge into action, and to carry on my training with some new ideas. I also love my Visualise jacket! Thank you to the clinic host for making us welcome, and the organizer Allison Pezzack for making this opportunity available!
At an age when a lot of people are contemplating slowing down and retirement, Alice MacGillivray made the decision to make her back-burnered life-long dream of horse ownership a reality.
A thoughtful planner, Alice did copious research as well as following the pull of her heart in deciding to make her first horse a Fjord. We were pleased when Alice made the decision to purchase the lovely Fjord mare Bocina from us in the fall of 2010.
Just prior to that I had been asked to represent the Fjord breed at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. I had been thinking Bocina would be an ideal partner, for a number of reasons. She’s beautiful, friendly, well-trained, plus calm and accepting of all sorts of distractions. Alice kindly gave me permission to exhibit Bocina.
Bocina was a super star at the The Royal! From the moment we backed her off our trailer at the main dock with big trucks unloading all types of products and produce all around us, to which she barely flicked an unconcerned ear, to her flawless four times daily performances in the Spirit of the Horse ring, hours she spent with her head hanging out her stall door to greet endless lineups of visitors, and morning walks all around the CNE grounds calmly taking in the sights of the city, not to mention the cattle corralled at the back under the Gardiner Expressway, Bocina demonstrated all that we love about the Fjord breed.
And that is a photo of the lovely Bocina on the cover of Alice’s new book. Riding Horseback in Purple was just recently published! Written for the mature adult who is contemplating a re-awakening of their dream of owning a horse, this engaging book guides readers through important considerations of horse ownership and phases of learning as well as sharing Alice’s journey from horse-newbie to horse-owner. Highly recommended!
Bluebird Lane extends a hearty congratulations for a job well done to the team that represented our Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry in the 2014 Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA!
On January 1, in front of over eight hundred thousand spectators and broadcast nationally, this group of Fjord owners made us proud by presenting 13 beautifully turned-out Fjord horses, exhibiting the unique traits of our wonderful breed and their Norwegian heritage.
Norwegian Fjord horse fans the world over were thrilled and excited when Disney’s upcoming animated movie, Frozen, was announced. The reason for this excitement? This new movie is set in Norway and the prince, Hans, rides a Fjord horse. Oh my!! But, how many of us can say our own Fjord horse was used in the production design?
Although I had bred and ridden warmbloods for a number of years, I felt that as I had become older (and less brave) I might feel safer on a smaller, quieter horse. I ended up buying a handsome and smart young gelding called Einar from Lori, and left him with Lori to start under saddle which she did in a logical, progressive manner.
Lori has been kind, honest and professional in all respects and Einar has been wonderful — affectionate, athletic and willing to please.