Liebster Award

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by both Soapy Photo Girl & Jess Crandon. Thanks for that guys, it was really nice of you as I am pretty new to blogging and good to know that some people find some of my ramblings of interest! 🙂

I am copying this next section from Soapy Photo Girl.

How to Accept the Award:

Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued and it is for blogs with fewer than 200 followers.

“Here are the rules for accepting the award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each bloggers page and let them know you have nominated them.”

I’m not going to to do the 11 random facts as I realised I have 22 questions to answer and don’t want you all to have fallen asleep before the end of this post!

11 Bloggers to nominate

Well I don’t follow that many blogs yet but I have put the links to the ones I do below, I also wasn’t sure about putting in the non-Wordpress blogs so I have left them out.

http://thehorsewrotehistory.wordpress.com/

http://medalslut.com/

http://thedoublelifeofmrsm.wordpress.com/

http://therodneydiaries.wordpress.com/

Now to those questions, firstly the ones from Soapy Photo Girl

Assuming anyone who reads this has an opinion on the matter (it’s a safe bet, I think!), what is your favourite thing about horses?

Hmmm that’s a tough one. I think it might be the way that I feel when I ride, when you get the connection with the horse. So I suppose their mind, if that doesn’t sound too weird? I accept it sounds pretty weird.

How old were you when you had your first riding experience and what do you remember most clearly about it?
I have the memory of a goldfish but due to photographic evidence I know as a toddler I was sitting on a horse. My earliest memory is actually a bad one! I was riding a small Shetland pony at the first stables I rode at and the girth wasn’t tight enough. My saddle slipped almost fully around and my pony bolted with me being dragged along. I remember my dad shouting from the viewing stands and me crying… a lot.Put me off for a couple of years.
Do you feel that your riding endeavours are building up to a pursuit of any particular discipline, and if so what?
I would love to do TREC. Totally appeals with the idea of you and horse working together. That said I have been enjoying the beginner dressage elements we have been incorporating into lessons.
Do you currently have any pets at home? Please give details.
Nope but I would love a dog, however so far Mr Inelegant Horse Rider is putting his foot down.
Do you practice any other ‘sporting’ activities in your leisure time? Again, spill the beans, s’il vous plaît.
As can be seen from the blog I am a relatively keen runner. I also like skiing and mountain biking although I haven’t been for a while.
What kind of music do you like to listen to?
I will give anything a listen but I do love heavy metal and rock music plus 90s indie.
If you could visit any country in the world, where would it be and why?
Another tough one, used to be China – I love Chinese history especially political history although now I am really keen on going to Japan too. Unfortunately I am scared of flying so I am going nowhere any time soon.
Describe your relationship with footwear.
I adore shoes. I have a collection, it is small but beautiful. I like striking shoes, they have to make me smile!
Do you have an opinion on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and, if so, which of the six core ponies is your favourite?
I loved My Little Pony when I was wee. I can’t remember her name but my favourite had cherries marked on her flank.
Tacos or burritos?
Tacos I guess, not a fan of burritos.
If we were marooned together on a desert island with only coconuts, lizards, doc leaves, sand and bits of driftwood for entertainment, how would you use these things to create an entertainment spectacle that would delight me and keep me distracted until the rescue boat arrived?
I would organise the lizards into a Monty Python tribute group and enact the whole of the Holy Grail with me playing the coconuts as horses hooves.

11 questions from Jess Crandon

1. Why do you blog?

I have been thinking about this one and part of the reason is that I needed a way of documenting what I had done. I have a hard time not getting frustrated whether with my running or riding and as my instructor and friends have pointed out ‘not seeing what I have achieved’. So my blog is partly that. It also started as a way for me to take part in the Wartime Wardrobe challenge and connect with others who share the same interests as me.
2. How seriously do you take yourself?

Not very seriously. Much more fun just to roll with it and be daft!
3. Books, films, or TV?

Books and TV?? I love my books but you can’t beat a bit of TV, a good TV series is enthralling.
4. The best advice you’ve ever been given?

I was always told to accept that some people wouldn’t like me and that that was fine, just to accept it and don’t give it another thought. Basically my mum and dad taught me that it was more important to have a good solid group of friends and people you can rely on rather than try to be all things to all people.
5. The best advice you could give someone?

Probably the same as above!
6. Favourite season?

I like Autumn, and I like winter too but really only if it is either crisp or snowing. I love the snow!
7. Do you think things through, or just say yes?

I have learnt to think things through. 🙂
8. What’s your biggest regret – or do you not believe in them?

Hmmm tough one as I reckon that the choices you make take you to where you are in life but it is human nature to have regrets. One big regret would be not spending as much time with my Granddad when I could.
9. Who’s your biggest inspiration?

I’m not sure, I think I have lots of them from the obvious (my parents) to the sports related (Kathrine Switzer amongst many others) to the politics related (Patrick Harvie) and many more beyond.
10. Five famous people (dead or alive) that you’d invite out for coffee?

Heath Ledger, Jeff Buckley, Mary King, Chairman Mao and Coco Chanel. It would be a weird yet interesting chat!

11. Why do you ride/are you involved with horses?

I do ride. It is one of those things that will clear your head entirely and when you are flat out in gallop across a beach it is hard to take the smile off your face. (Although in my case it is usually mixed with fear too :))

My eleven questions in case anyone fancies answering them, totally up to yourselves I read your blogs anyway 🙂

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. What, if any, sports do you do and why?
  3. Who do you admire in the sporting world?
  4. Do you horse ride, if you do what is the thing you enjoy most about it?
  5. What was the last thing you made?
  6. If you are a runner do you enter races and if you do what kind of distances do you enjoy?
  7. Favourite food?
  8. Any TV show or film that you think everyone must see?
  9. Going to steal another of Jess’s questions here, Five famous people (dead or alive) that you’d invite out for coffee?
  10. What is your favourite place to visit and why?
  11. Finally, totally random, what was your favourite kids show when you were growing up?
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Cantering a Giraffe

So this week I have been doing some running,  tried a new Pilates class, tried to force my inflexible body into yoga positions and had another private horse riding lesson.

I ran the Hairy Haggis Relay yesterday (awesome name) and will put up a wee race review later on in the week but just to say it was great fun, very inspiring to run alongside all these amazing marathoners who were all doing brilliantly. We did it for charity and it gave us all a little boost as we raced around. My team came in first out of the three teams we had running so I am very chuffed. More to follow, but in the meantime here is a photo of my blisters – who says I ain’t hardcore???

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Last week I did a couple of short runs and one intense speed session but only because I was late to my new Pilates class and had to bolt down the road as fast as I could. I believe I made a great sweaty, bright red first impression! The other runs didn’t inspire me with confidence for either the relay or the seven hills as I had to walk for a bit on Arthur’s Seat and promptly got lost following rabbit paths which meant I was running back and forth in front of bemused tourists enjoying the view. However, after a week of swimming and lying in the sun I guess it was to be expected that I wouldn’t be the fastest I could have been. I did enjoy the runs though and that suggests that I needed the break more than I had realised.

After quitting my last Pilates class due to the direction the teacher was taking, great class just not for me. I was a little apprehensive about starting another, all that I am after is an improvement in my core strength. The class was great, a complete beginner’s class which was good for me – it got me focusing on my breathing and the simple movements. The instructor was good and helped me when I asked questions, I generally seem to have my leg muscles switch on to hold me in position rather than my core so she was helping me with that.

I had a private horse riding lesson this week on Friday as it was a busy weekend with a friend’s wedding on Saturday (she looked amazing and a lovely day) then the relay marathon on Sunday. I was really pleased to be going since the last time I had been on a horse I had just ended up sad (see my previous post).

There was also some sunshine which is practically unheard of in Scotland at the minute although the ever-present wind was still there making for another round of ex-foliation from the school floor. I was given Ct again, which was interesting. I am beginning to develop quite a large soft spot for him, I particularly likes the way he bends down to nuzzle you when you go to his stable. I am sure he is just expecting you to have brought him a treat but it is still very cute. However, while I was mounting he did walk away from the mounting block making me have to slightly jump to stay with him which lost him some brownie points.

Another good lesson getting to know how to work a horse to help him loosen off and come into the aids more.We did lots of walking, changes of reins and circles with my instructor working on me getting him to look into the centre but without him falling in. I had the inside rein a little out and squeezing then releasing it while keeping the outside rein up and my inside leg on. Whew! It felt like a lot to co-ordinate and I am not going to pretend that I managed it that successfully all the time but when I did get it correct it felt really good. We first decreased the circles then increased the circles going around and around my instructor until she was happy. I have to remember to ride each section of the circle instead of trying to ride the whole circle in a oner. Once I thought about them as segments I was finding I was getting a much better shape.

I was told that with Ct initially I may have to have my reins much shorter than I would usually, keeping my elbows bent as this makes him come to me rather than straightening my elbows to allow him more rein. It felt strange at first as I do have a tendency to sometimes almost throw my reins away. Then we moved onto trot, again we were practising circles and leg yielding to check if he was on the aids for me. He started to snort a lot and as I looked to my instructor she explained that this was him starting to submit, sure enough he moved his head and neck into the perfect position with his poll still high and suddenly felt light in my hands! His leg yielding became much easier and he was looking where I asked each time.

Now since I didn’t canter Ct before I had assumed I wouldn’t in this lesson either. My instructor told me to take up jump position in the trot then asked me to ask Ct for canter, whew he flew into canter for me immediately. All I can say is thank goodness I was off his back, it was not the most comfortable canter I have had  but did feel rhythmical. We did a series of short canters on both reins with my instructor explaining that he finds it difficult to balance hence why we are asked to get off his back in the school, it makes it much easier for him to focus on getting himself around the corners without the need to balance the rider. I might be getting Ct more as they want more left-handed riders to ride him to improve his left side meanwhile I actually need to improve my right side as once again my heel was coming up.

I was trying to come up with a good way to describe Ct’s canter and the best one I can think of is Phoebe from the TV show Friends – when she runs – that’s what his canter feels like! It feels like each leg is operating independently and he is just going ‘Well I am going faster!’. An absolutely brilliant horse and I do hope I get to ride him more.

WWC coupons left: 38
Miles run: 23.1

A private lesson and a sad holiday ride

Last Friday before I went off on holiday I decided to book a private lesson,  because the day before you go on holiday why not do more things than you should?  Due to the amazingly bizarre timings of the buses during the week I was at the stables nearly an hour early.  I was told I had P and that I should groom him ready for tacking up.
To begin with he really enjoyed it but towards the end was getting fussy and had to be tied up to get his feet picked out. The moment we got outside I remembered I hadn’t done his tail as I had been trying to remove as much of his excess hair as possible. Woops.  He still looked good in my book.
I enjoy private lessons on P, I always feel I get more out of him. The focus was on getting him active and powerful, and me feeling the change.

While warming P up I was told to get him moving immediately. If he didn’t respond to the leg, use the whip. My instructor also taught me to sometimes simply swoosh the stick through the air – you use a long stick when riding P.

We were working on getting a powerful trot with P using his back-end engine and for me to focus on how it feels. I was doing trot – halt transitions to test the quality of the trot with my instructor occasionally shouting ‘could you canter from it?’ If I answered yes – ‘That’s working trot then!’

Next up, power in the canter. We just did a few canters on each rein with my instructor focusing on my getting my right heel down and pushing my butt back in the saddle. P is a good horse for reacting positively when you do something correctly so I suddenly was flying along but felt in control.

We had one moment where he thought about spooking but I spotted him looking around him so got his attention back quickly. I need to remember to ensure P knows I am in control and he needs to listen to me!

Then with ten minutes to go my instructor suddenly said ‘right let’s head to the field’. In order to get me used to riding without my instructor there for the riding and road safety course and the dressage tests she decided to let me into the field to practice some moves. It was great but strange! I am really excited for the summer riding now! Also I really need to lengthen my hamstrings, yoga it is then.

When I returned P to his stable I rugged him up and turned him out and was rewarded with a nuzzle. He can be very sweet sometimes.

So I have been on holiday for the last week in Egypt visiting a friend which has been lovely. Last time I was here I had a lovely horse ride into the mountains, galloping about and I felt very confident with the instructor and the horses. This time with a different stables I was just left sad and deflated, my friend enjoyed her ride which made me feel a little bad for disliking it so much. The horses were very thin and the tack missing parts, when I tried to let down the girth at the end I couldn’t – it was so tight. Basically I felt uncomfortable the entire time. I know that it is unlikely that a ride in Egypt will be at the safety level I am used to but I wish I had said something and never even ridden. The first horse they gave me felt wild and out of control and when I asked to swap for the laidback one the man accompanying us had they kept saying she was lazy. Eventually I just demanded to be swapped as I didn’t feel ok at all, we didn’t have helmets and while obviously it doesn’t stop a fall it helps with protection, They then didn’t seem convinced i could ride and kept trying to’ help’ and I was told to kick constantly even by random men on the street when my horse was walking well. Then I kept getting asked if I wanted to go fast, the guy seemed confused when i said no then asked if i wanted a picture but i said no to that too, beautiful as she was i just felt sorry for my horse. Ok different customs and safety standards but then the next day I saw the same horses out in the sun with no shade nor could I see any water. I have learnt my lesson no riding in some places unless I can be guaranteed a healthy, happy horse and if I am unhappy ask for a helmet or just don’t ride. I just wish I could fly that horse to Scotland.

WWC April Round Up

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So it has taken me a little longer this month to write this post and partly it is down to the horrifying event in Dhaka. I doubt anyone could fail to feel nothing but sympathy and horror at the news reports and pictures on TV. But do I think most people associated their wardrobes with those images….no I don’t think they did. We see it more and more, the disconnection between what we have in front of us and how it is produced. I thought perhaps a small horsemeat moment might have occurred but given how little colleagues and friends have spoken about the building collapse I believe not. So what to do? Give up and accept we can’t make a large change alone? Well obviously with being part of the WWC I am never going to say that! Like many others I have signed petitions, shared through social media and talked to others about the price that is paid somewhere in the chain for fast fashion and cheap fashion. Ok, we might not change the world yet but if we can raise awareness we can start a process. I will put some links at the bottom of the page for the people tree petition and a couple of articles, once I am back in UK and at a computer.
So my coupon spending this month. Well it started ok, I got a pair of shoes, the ones in the picture above, I have desired since last September on eBay, second hand and in brilliant nick. Then I lost it slightly buying new running shoes but trail running shoes which are 5 coupons. I then realised that as I can’t wear them all the time – due to a lack of support in the shoe so I will need another pair or road shoes probably in June – another 5 coupons – and while the coupon spend is annoying it is more the fact that running shoes have to be some of the least sustainable footwear you can own. Also as other runners know when you wear shoes with support you need to replace them every few hundred miles as the supportive aspect wears out, that means that I have to budget more coupons later in the year!
So I have resolved to start on a mission – the rest of May and June are going to be spent looking at more sustainable clothing and footwear for running. I got a great starting point on Tuesday at a running workshop. I will keep that for a later post.
The WWC has also made me start to question whether I really want something or not. I finally ordered a striped dress I had my eye on by seasalt, when I got it I was disappointed. It is a nice piece of clothing but too shapeless and baggy in the back. Previously I would have kept it as it is a nice tunic but I don’t love it so back it goes. I didn’t think that I was bad previously with regard to my clothing as it was mainly ethical but the WWC has made me slow down with my consumption, making a case for purchasing items instead.
I have also been trying to wear different items of clothing instead of reaching for the tried and tested staple. For example I had a night out for a friend’s birthday and instead of wearing the usual top and shorts combo I wore a jade green dress that I previously wore to weddings dressed down with a denim shirt – a 70s original hand- me-down from my mum. That is going to be the theme for next month, the idea of borrowing clothing and hand-me-downs.

WWC coupons left: 38
Miles run: 20

One of those Weeks – A Bit of A Moan about Running

So this weekend I felt like giving up running altogether. I can usually find something positive to take from my runs even if it is just that I made it round. However, this weekend I had a new first – I threw up for the first time following a run. With the fantastic wisdom of hindsight I probably shouldn’t have run at all but with a week away where I am unlikely to run I wanted to get some more miles in my legs. My whole body hurt when we started off, I have been assuming that this has just been down to me not working on the strength aspect of my training enough. Throughout the run I struggled, on the flat, on the first hill, on the downhill and when we came to the scramble up the near vertical slope we will run up on the day I could feel my legs wanting to give up a little. I had a slight moment while ascending the scramble where my feet began to slide – I am still building up distance in my new trail shoes. One of my running mates came back to help me up, without her I would have had to go the long way around so I was very grateful. Pushing through the roots, leaves and grass we emerged onto the top of the hill and I have to say at this point I felt such a sense of achievement! We had essentially run the first half of the race and I felt ok, my calves were totally seized up but other than that I was ok.

Then my head started to hurt, I had already made the decision that if I started to feel worse I would head home as I had to be at the stables that afternoon. So we all decided to head for home at this point rather than push for the next hill. As we ran part of a route I knew very well I started to feel really down, it seems like I have one good week then a bad week. I can’t understand how my friend that I train with can simply out-pace me comfortably, she was consistently in front of me on this run and if it hadn’t been for our other running friend holding back for me I think I would have walked.

By the time I said goodbye to them both at the edge of the meadows I was ready to give up, but due to my notoriously poor time-keeping that wasn’t really an option. If I was to get back in time to go to the stables I had to run at least part of the way home. I picked up some sports drink hoping it would help with the nausea that was near constant now and luckily met my bus at the bus stop. When I got through the front door I started to retch and had to run to the bathroom, now I was feeling weak and woozy. I tried to sip down some of the recovery drink I had mixed but it was tiny sips I was taking. I tried to eat some plain pasta but could barely manage any mouthfuls. Mr Inelegant Horse Rider kept telling me to cancel going to the stables but as it was the start of the riding and road safety course I really didn’t want to. He gave me a lift down to the stables and I discovered that luckily it was a theory session as I was confident I wouldn’t be able to ride. It was really interesting but if I am honest I was finding it tricky to concentrate and felt really cold the entire time. Afterwards I went to visit my parents and promptly was sick in their bathroom – a lovely way to say hello. I managed to eat Saturday night and have been progressively feeling more normal however I am still incredibly tired and my muscles all hurt. I am having an easy week this week, I just hope it helps otherwise I fail to see how I am getting round these seven hills. Although after writing this part of the blog I remember how I felt after the first 5 mile race I ever did and I have done many races since then, I refuse to be beaten by this!

So after feeling rubbish during a lecture on riding and road safety which marks the start of my course, I was hopeful that on Sunday I would be feeling great for my lesson. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling 100% and I think that showed in my riding. I was given P today as my mate who was meant to ride him hadn’t turned up and nobody likes to tack up T who I was given originally 🙂 After watching my instructor ride him during the beginner’s dressage test demo I was keen to ride P again, I love him.

However, we hit a snag when he wouldn’t move from the stable even the yard manager had severe difficulty moving him. I think he might have been asleep. Then once outside he nearly fell asleep at the mounting block, I could sense this wouldn’t be an active lesson!

Sure enough most of my warm up comprised of P standing in corners pretending he was going to go to the loo. Eventually someone was sent to get water to see if that would help him pee, it didn’t but at least I managed to keep him moving. Everything was a go-slow on Sunday. Trotting was tough and he tried to transition back to walk almost constantly. With my instructor giving me directions I was trotting him around and around in one corner of the school trying to get him to give me power but without losing the control. It definitely improved but if I am honest my heart and head weren’t in it as I had started to develop a headache and P’s chest and throat were aggravated by the dust in the school. We were working on our circles and diagonal lines in trot plus putting in some leg yielding. We managed a short canter on each rein but I felt P really labouring into it although after the first canter he seemed much freer. The second canter was much better.

Afterwards while speaking to my instructor she explained I have to get him motivated to work immediately, perhaps even put in a canter or two for him during the trotting exercises as this really wakens him up and helps him get his joints moving. He has beautiful paces once moving and I want to be able to ride him properly.

Finally, a brief update on the dressage lecture and demo I attended at the stables last week. Firstly, the lecture was brilliant – a bit of history, what judges look for and what a beginner’s dressage test is. Then a demo by my instructor (on P) while we were talked through what she was doing and asked to score her. It was great to see such a brilliant rider on P and to see that sometimes he does the daft things with her but that she knows how to deal with it immediately. The really interesting part is that we are going to be allowed to ride a beginner’s dressage test and be judged on it! I am missing May’s one as I will be on holiday but I can’t wait to try it out in June. Not sure which horse to pick, I might ask who I am suited to – that would be interesting to know anyway!

I will post a round up of the WWC for April later this week, this year is really passing quickly. In the meantime if you are interesting in the progress of the WWC – Nik’s update is on her blog at: http://www.littlehouseintown.co.uk/

Miles run: 15 (11 of which I shouldn’t have)

WWC Coupons left: 46 (the dress is being returned)