Climbing over everything

Oh yeah, all this climbing can literally be felt in my sore arms now, a day after my first time of bouldering. Of course it's not the only thing I'm pointig at when talking about climbing, but let's focus on it first.

So, we went to this 'climbing club' yesterday. Of course the guy who works there had forgotten that we were coming so we waited in the rain (or packed ourselves in each others cars) in half an hour before getting to the real business. Luckily the climber-guy was very kind - as all of the swedes - and he promised us that we can come there on saturday and climb for free if we wanted to. Who would say no for such an opportunity?

The bouldering was kind of a new thing for me, even tho I've been climbing for several times in Finland. The difference is that while bouldering you won't use any kind of safety equipment and while climbing a "regular" wall you'll have this rope keeping you on the wall in case you lose your grip and start falling. The walls used in bouldering were of course a lot lower than the walls that people climb with ropes, but it was still pretty wild to jump from like seven meters on a soft mattress. I didn't have enough balls to jump from the highest point of the wall so I always had to climb downwards a few steps before letting go.

I'm the plump one in blue, trying to figure out how to keep going upwards.
This picture wins them all! It's one of my classmates getting down from the wall.
We're totally going there again tomorrow to see if it's possible to get anywhere with all this ache in arms, butt and thighs but hey, it's free! Tomorrow will also be my first sleep-in morning in like... months? I don't even know anymore, feels like I rarely go up after seven in the morning. Oh well, better late than never.

The other 'climbing' I kinda mentioned earlier was about jumping with Rubin, although the most recent 'jumping' we did was nothing near to climbing. We did this simple exercise with some ground poles and a tiny in-and-out combination on a bent track. The main point with this was to improve his balance, speed and coordination with a simultaneous goal to get him to jump a little bit better in the first place. Right now jumping with him is a prio-1 because he clearly needs some training in it.

The groundwork however went well, at least if compared to the latest lesson we completely screwed up. This time Rubin had no problem with jumping and he seemed to be kinda glad that we did something different. He is so eager to learn new things but sometimes his insecurity kicks in and there we are, standing in front of an obstacle size of an egg and wondering what the hell did we do wrong this time. But I'm not losing my hope with him, he just needs some more training as well as I need to get better as a rider.

I'm not saying our dilemmas are the result of poor riding, but I'm not saying I couldn't do anything better either. I would like to describe myself as a rider who is in a constant state of learning and getting better than before - there will never be a day when I'll say I've mastered all there is to master about riding. I can always have a better seat, softer hand, better control on my body and I can always learn something new about horses. It's so delightning to get better and see the results in the horses you're riding. I would never change it for anything!

Of course it won't always feel like I was getting any change towards a better-trained horse, but eventually the change will come. This is exactly what has happened with Grace; sometimes I feel like she still was the sluggish little mare I got four years ago, but then I remember how little we both could at that time and feel immediately very happy about all the progress we've got through together. I believe that Rubin will also become an excellent jumper as soon as we get more routine in it. We'll keep up the good work!


Okay, let's try in English then

As the result of the feedback I got from some of my readers I'm from now on writing in English. To be honest I haven't written anything "big" in English for a while, so there's quite likely going to be some typos and mistakes in grammar every now and then. Just in case you need to be prepared for those.

I participated in a competition with Grace a week ago (or something) and it was a complete disaster. We were supposed to jump only 1.10m class and as I got a bit in hurry after I'd jumped with another horse in 0.90m we didn't get that much time for warm up. It usually works best for Grace to warm up for a really long time before entering the arena, like something between 30-40 minutes, even tho she's one of the laziest creatures on the entire globe. She just needs her time to get all her joints and muscles rolling and that's not exactly what happened this time.

As the result of half-panicked warm up, Grace became very suspicious when entering the arena and she really lost her self-confidence as soon as we crossed the startline. I felt so stupid because it was entirely my own fault that she wasn't properly prepared and as soon as she refused to jump the sixth vertical I cutted the game off. It didn't feel fair to keep on jumping when she clearly tried to tell me it didn't feel allright. What did I learn? One should always have someone to help with horses if they're jumping with more than one!

Oh well, shit happens and I'm glad I learned this lesson in such a "little" competition. Speaking about competing, I finally managed to get myself a Swedish Green Card, which basically means that as soon as I get my licenses fixed I can start competing for real. So far I've just been jumping in practices we call "pay & jump", where the Green Card or licenses are not required. It has however been excellent practise for me as a rider because I can sometimes get like super excited about competing and be focusing on wrong things. This has definitely improved under the time here in Sweden and hopefully I can keep improving it even more.

Rubin decided to throw away all the blankets from his door so you could see his precious face better ;).

Even when jumping with Grace didn't go that well, our team got a feeling of tiny success when Rubin went through his life's first dressageprogramme ever. The programme was very simple, basically just trotting and cantering in nice big circles and changing the direction every now and then. The easyness can be explained with the fact that in our school the students get to know a little bit about young horses while studying the last year. The programme was made for four-year-old horses and it was perfect start for Rubin who has very little experience of any kind of special events. I understood he has been in a test for 3-year-old horses but I don't really know if he's been in any other 'competitions'.

However, he managed to gather something like 65% and I was soooo proud of him! Even when he thought the dressage fence was a bit scary in one specifik corner he was as cool as always and did exactly as I asked him to do. We still have some work to do with transitions between trot and canter but hey, that's why we keep on practising! His frame is quite okay even tho it shouldn't really matter in this early stage. It feels like he was born to carry himself in a round form and I don't really need to think about it as much as I have to do with Grace every now and then.

Jumping with Rubin has sometimes been a little bit sketchy. Every time I try to jump with him on a lesson he just gets some kind of a "lock" in his mind and he simply doesn't want to jump. I don't really understand this because when I jump by myself he technically flies over every obstacle with no problem at all. I don't however find this as a permanent problem, he simply needs more practice. Our trainer told us to keep jumping more often, especially the tiny obstacles he usually sees as some kind of jokes.

It's anyhow a bit weird with his behavior because even when we jump by ourselves we jump colourful (scary) obstacles and the indoor arena is almost full with other horses. But on the other hand it's good that he gives me a little bit challenge; it teaches me so much more than a horse that would just do everything perfectly as soon as I sit on the saddle.

It's only few days until the Christmas break which means a lot of physical work for me. I'll be working at our school's stables (as usual) and I will take care of at least three horses (mine + Cindy) which is the absolutely best way to spend the holidays. My family was a little bit disappointed when I told them I wouldn't come to Finland for the Christmas eve but it felt like they were more okay with it after I visited Finland a couple of weeks ago on my father's birthday. They kinda need to see my face every now and then to make sure I'm still alive ;).

I will probably visit Flyinge some day in January because I really want/need to talk with the teachers about studying in there. I have this slight obsession with training horses and I really, really want to continue my studies with young horses. Flyinge has this one-year-program for those who are interested in young horses and when I heard about it I was like "That's it. That's what I'm going to do". But I'll talk more about it later if I get my darn butt there.

Ps. My computer's screen got broken on the flight between Helsinki and Gothenburg so there won't be that much pictures this time..

I just had to take picture of the oxer we jumped with Rubin one day.
It's ridiculous that he can jump this high with no problem but as soon as we're on a lesson he suddenly can't get over a verticle that's like 0.30m tall..