Darielle & Coco – The Mare That Keeps on Giving

Coco & Darielle, it just has an amazing ring to it, am I right?  What a team, what a duo & now that Orla is back riding she has broken us up!! Myself & Coco have grown together over the last 3 weeks, in our last session we had together she may have tried to bunny hop me off but that was just Coco showing how upset she was that I wouldn’t be riding her on a daily basis anymore…. 

The Perfect Duo – Darielle & Coco

With the return of Orla to the riding scene after her drastic injury, I though it would be a good idea to piece together something from my time together with Coco. You all seen some clips of us over on our Instagram page, but I feel like you never really knew how we actually got on, the ins & outs of our journey, Well here you have it.

When I took Coco on board, the plan for me was to focus on flatwork/polework with her, to keep her in work so that she was kept content, busy & working. Orla of course was on the ground (not literally this time!!) setting up poles, or talking me through some of Coco’s “moments” I have learned an awful lot from my three weeks with her…. keep reading to get the inside scoop!

My Growing Confidence

This is a word that is thrown around quite a good bit in the equestrian world, You see a lot of people struggle with certain horses, they often tend to find that one horse that suits them and well the rest is history they are bound together for life. 

Always sit back when it comes to hoppy Coco!

Then slots in Coco…. I have seen the good, the bad & the ugly when it comes to her. I will be honest here, I have found it quite hard to contain my laughter at times with the amount of falls I have witnessed Orla take on her over the last year!  And to be fair to the horse she had never been nasty with any of them, she was mainly distracted or had put herself in at an awkward stride, and well Orla got given the blunt end most times! 

Not being confident on Coco was something that never really popped into my head. I guess coming from riding Dante, who is a horse that not an awful lot of people (No1!!) seems to want to ride. I think I may have this un-found confidence when it comes to not really caring about the horses background and simply giving them a chance to prove themselves when I jump on board.

If anything Coco has helped me grow in confidence over the last 3 weeks. Of course it wouldn’t be Coco if she didn’t put up some sort of fight at times (those poxy corners!) but she was never unmanageable, she never put the fear of god into me or scared me away from riding her. She made me grow into a better rider, some of her qualities I have to commend Orla on, you have done a fantastic job! She is a challenging mare, but she makes the rider work & think, she wont give you an easy ride, she will instead give you a learning curve.

What Have I Learned?

I may be a bit of a dare devil… This may sound ridiculous, but I don’t really seem to care about the consequence of my actions. I am also not sure if this is a Good or Bad trait? 

Little of you know the full story from the day Orla had her nasty fall. As Orla sat on the arena floor in bits, of course like any horse owner, you never want to leave you horse on that sour note. So after some shifty eyes from Orla of her basically telling me you are getting up on her… I of course, got up on Coco to jump her over a few fences… 

Long story short I fell off her that day also… she dropped the shoulder in front of a fence and boom, off I went! I was not injured to the extent of Orla, or any extent at all really, so I got back up again and continued to push & push her until she jumped all the fences I wanted her too. She is a stubborn mare, and I think she may have met her match that day, but she caved & eventually we ended on that good note.

From this point, I think myself & Coco have bonded on another level. She has thought me an awful lot of things that I feel any horse owner should live by ….  

  • Always think two steps ahead
  • Sit back or you will be headbutted
  • Some horse just don’t like corners or sheep
  • Never trust a Mare
  • Always Buy a Gelding

Was I Getting Too Comfortable?

I have had Dante 3 years now, and in the space of those 3 years, I think I may have only ever ridden two other horses, and one of those was of course Coco. It is outrageous to think before I owned my very own horse, week in week out I had no problems at all adjusting to different horses but I have gotten way too comfortable.  

It is horrible to say, I used to hate riding other horses. Other horses don’t know your riding habits, to put it simply they are not adjusted to your habits. The majority of those habits you shouldn’t be doing at all but your horse is so used to them that you get away with it! Adjusting to a new horse is something that just seems so different and from riding Coco I have learned to spread my wings & fly, It is extremely rewarding.

My advice to you all, go out there and ride other horses!!! Doing this, you will quickly learn how much you have progressed & of course slacked on certain aspects of your riding. It is only a benefit to both you & your horse. 
Different horses bring out different qualities in you, so go get your horse friends together & do a horse swap, if anything it will be hilarious but you will also get an entire new understanding to what your equestrian friends have to deal with on a daily basis! 

Give it a go & see how you get on, my plan now is to get Orla up on Dante for a spin, she has been putting it off wayyyy to long!! 

Until Next Time,

Darielle

7 Winter Essentials

Continuing on trend with our “Winter” theme this week, I have pulled together a list of  some equine essentials or should I say some go to items/products everyone needs when it comes to the dreaded change in weather.  

For all you storage enthusiasts, keep reading to see one of my best storage finds ever,  I am quite surprised that I haven’t seen more of these flying around!

Have a read to find out what my Winter Essentials are….


1. Equine America Pro-Pell Plus Solution

Pro Pell plus is a feed supplement to support levels in horses. energy based supplement. Those winter months can put a toll on your horses, from stopping to starting. Recently I felt that Dante had that ploddy/lazy feel about him, introducing Pro Pell plus has made a massive change in him! He has a new lease of life! It acts as a great pick me up, a daily tonic to increase energy levels. with 30ml given a day, it is also great for horses coming out of injury as it contains a lot of vital vitamins & minerals. (Make sure it is used as part of a balanced diet, always read the label first!)

Website: https://equisoc.myshopify.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/equisocireland/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/equisocireland/

2. Equisoc Ireland

An Irish designed Riding Sock brand that has caught my eye recently, not only for their trendy sock prints, but also for there amazing fit, quality & comfort. I mistakenly bought a pair of these socks a few months ago only to be pleasantly surprised & quite trilled by my purchase! They are an equestrian wardrobe staple, Knee high, padded around the foot area & extremely warm! What more can you ask for? And they wont break the bank either! with a pack of two only costing €10.

Website: https://equisoc.myshopify.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/equisocireland
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/equisocireland//

3. Natural Herbal Cream

If you haven’t read our review of some of Botanica’s products, well look no further check it out here! The Natural Herbal cream is in particular very good when it comes to mud rash, Dante got a slight touch of it a few weeks ago and a week of using this cream daily & it was gone! This brand is an equestrian MUST HAVE! Any cuts, scraps, swellings, mud rash, you name it & your herbal cream will do the trick.  They are also super afordable, and are a very good investment, not an awful lot is needed, and quick results are seen almost immediately. 

Website: https://www.botanica.ie/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/botanicainternational/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Botanica.International.Ltd/

4. Carr & Day & Martin – Cornucrescine 

The sweet baby jesus of horse hoof care! I dont care what anyone says, I personally dont think there is anything on the market as good as this product when it comes to looking after your horses feet. During the winter period it plays a vital part in maintaining your horses hoot condition, & growth of the hoof. It is best when applying to massage into the cornet band by hand for the best effect, I personally use a sponge!

Website: https://www.botanica.ie/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carrdaymartin/
Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/CarrDayMartinIreland/

5. IKEA Storage Rails

Well this one I wouldn’t say is  quite an essential, but it is definitely more of a must for all the organising freaks out there! (yes I am one..) During the Winter months numnahs tend to gather an awful lot more sweat, thrown around the tack room & are often forgotten about in some cases, in turn they end up growing the odd bit of mold due to the damp wet weather, well…. let me introduce to you my new life saviour!! My IKEA rail. It is extremely easy to make, done within 10 minutes (yes I made it myself & it is still standing!) At only €15 to buy, the hangers are an additonal 90c each, it is definitely money well spend! Just look how pretty it looks, and I have so much space for all my bits & bobs!!! 

Link To Rails: https://www.ikea.com/ie/en/products/small-storage-organisers/racks-stands/rigga-clothes-rack-white-art-50231630/
Link To Hangers: https://www.ikea.com/ie/en/products/small-storage-organisers/hooks-hangers/bumerang-trouser-skirt-hanger-chrome-plated-art-60240403/ 

6. Dodson & Horrell Winter Health Mash

I am pretty sure you are all sick of us banging on about The Winter Mash but honestly equestrians of the world, this is the ultimate Winter essential. It is easy to make & is ready to go in 10 minutes, just add luke warm water! Excellent forImmune support, keeping & maintaining healthy weight, somthing that can be impossible for some horses in the winter, it also contains fennel & mint which not only smells delicious but helps support your horses digestive system, I highly recommend giving it a try, I would definately choose this product over similar feeds such as Pink Mash, with it being half the price an added bonus!

Website: https://www.dodsonandhorrell.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dodsonandhorrell/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dodsonhorrell/?hl=en

7. Head Lamp Beanies

Who in there right mind wants to be walking around the place in the pitch black, well certainly NOTTT me! I have the added possibility of walking into a duck or a goose in the dark so what better invention than the beanie head lamp. A LED bluetooth rechargable beanie at that, and yes the hat can play music. Hitting the nail on the head for an essential winter product! With stockists Holmestead doing great deals on these hats with 2 for €50

Website: http://www.holmesteadsaddlery.com/ 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/holmestead_saddlery/?hl=en


Well Folks, there you have it my top 7 Winter Essentials! I could of added at least 20 more, but I managed to narrow it down. It was extremely hard not to put in the Pot Noodles for those long Winter days up at the yard, what better way to keep you warm though!

Thank you again for reading, if you have any Winter essential that you think I missed out on that is a must let me know in the comments below, 

Happy Winter!

Darielle 

April Monthly Exercise – The Grid of Choice

A few weeks ago we decided to set up a technical grid exercise. Its one that we were both looking to give a go for quite a while so with some nice weather we decided to set it up. All I’ll say is that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves in for!

 What is this exercise good for?

  • Working on your lines
  • Practicing doglegs
  • Getting your horse to listen and wait for your aid 
  • Working on landing on the correct lead

How to set it up?

This exercise is set up on the centre line of the arena. Place a cross pole between K & F, count two strides from the cross pole and place a vertical. From the second jump, count
two strides and place another vertical. Beside the last vertical, place another two jumps on the diagonal.  These should be two strides on a dogleg from the second fence. 

How to ride it?

  1. To start, leave everything but the cross pole as ground poles so you can check your strides.
  2. The first time, go straight down the centre layout. The second time aim for the jump on the right & lastly aim for the jump on the left.
  3. Once you’re happy with the striding you can start raising everything  into jumps one at a time.
  4. This can be quite an intimidating layout to come into for both horse & rider.  It’s worth going through the grid a few times and making sure you’re comfortable on the different angles before upping the height.

Challenge Yourself

  • If you really want a challenge, try jumping through the grid the other way around, starting with your fences on the angle. 
  • Turn the middle fence into an oxer to really encourage your horse to stretch out and use himself

How did Coco get on?

blogpost_2.jpg

I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve ever done a more difficult exercise on Coco. It was incredible how intimidating the layout was once you get over the first fence. You had to know exactly where you were going before you even entered the grid and it really showed if you didn’t. 

On our first attempt through this layout, Coco refused the second fence. It was partly because she was napping to one of the other horses and partly because she could see the fillers on the last few fences. She was much better the second time although still very unsure of the fillers so I got a few funny jumps. 

I also have to mention that I did fall off. We put the second fence into an oxer which I was completely unprepared for. I had a rubbish approach into the first jump which affected our pace and momentum for the second fence. I thought Coco was going to attempt it but she refused and I ended up over her head. Completely my own fault. I got up and tried again, first without the back bar of the oxer and then again with the back bar up. She did that well so I finished her there. 

Overall I was delighted with how she handled the grid. It showed how much we still had to work on but also some positives like the fact that she jumped the scary fillers first time and happily jumped the oxer after I had landed her in it the first time. They’re small improvements but I’ll take every positive step I can get at the moment.

How did Dante get on?

Photo23-04-2018,221203_preview.jpeg

“Oh Dear God” that statement right there pretty much sums up how Dante got on with this exercise, his head was officially blown! 

 

On his first approach to the grid, the striding had to be adjusted quite some bit after Coco, pushing them all out slightly. The first fence was kept as a cross pole and the remaining combination staying as canter poles, He went through this good, not paying any attention to the second part of the grid until we started adding in extra fences, then things got slightly messy and out of control.

The difference between himself & Coco was massive in a sense of even their spacial awareness, he needs all the space he can get to try make the tight turns, having him falling over his feet was the outcome when he couldn’t figure out where his legs were supposed to go. After doing the grid & demolishing it a few times, I thought it was best to cut out the dogleg at the end, partially eliminate the full grid, and stick to the first two fences working on getting him to relax and focus. 

He was so overwhelmed with the 3rd section of the grid, I really do forget how much of a baby he still is, it’s going to take him another while for him to find those legs of his. Another huge element to the grid, was adding in ground poles to each of the fences, without them he really struggles to find his take of point.  

To summarise everything up, Dante needs all the help he can get when it comes to grids, for example having trot poles on his approach to help him concentrate and to stop him from taking control charging off. 

Doing this exercise put a lot of things into perspective for me & where Dante is with his progress. While some people may think because he is big and well capable of jumping big fences, that he should just be in jumping 1m/1.20 fences, they are completely wrong. Getting him to jump small & to appreciate the jump no matter the height, staying relaxed & focused on his approach is what I am aiming for. 

 


Is this an exercise you’d ever give a go? If so, let us know how you get on! We’re dying to hear how other people found this exercise.
Thanks for reading,
Orla & Darielle