B. G. Hearns's Blog (41)

The Oakley Diaries 41 - The Tree Root Analogy

We are now jumping up to 1m, even over a 1m spread. It feels a lot like soaring. Of course, that is only possible because I have the ability to clamp my legs on, and no longer need to rip his hair out of his neck. Because I'm not flying out of the saddle, Oakley is no longer balking quite the way he used to.

Oh, he still stops in front of a jump he hasn't seen before, that'll be a given for ever. After eight years, he still freezes and tries to avoid and frequently stops, but in a…


Added by B. G. Hearns on September 30, 2019 at 5:45pm — 2 Comments

The Oakley Diaries 40: Riding a Bicycle

   Really. It turns out that a good way to think about riding is to think about riding a bicycle. Especially jumping, but dressage, too. I was warming up last Wednesday, when J.H. commented to one of the students in the class that was just finishing up, that they needed to look up, not at the jump (a problem I struggle with) and used the analogy that one does not look at the wheel of one's bicycle when riding, one looks ahead, down the street and guides the bicycle around whatever dangers…


Added by B. G. Hearns on July 2, 2019 at 12:12am — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 39 - Winter is... Gone!

   The past two months have improved my abilities at an appropriately glacial pace. Winter came, snowed, thawed then froze, then snowed, then thawed and froze again, leaving a thick layer of ice covering everything. After the glacier subsided and the mud was something less than thick enough to suck the hooves off the horses, we have been continuing on with the task of subtle repositioning in the saddle, which is much harder than it sounds.

    The best way to describe it is to stand up,…


Added by B. G. Hearns on May 9, 2019 at 8:03pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 38 - The End of Our Beginning

   We did a dressage competition at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy last Saturday. We were riding the 2019 USEF Training Level Test 2. For the first time, a test result that came back and I'm quite happy with everything on it. The judge, I was told afterwards, judges FEI competitions, and has a reputation for marking hard and being picky, so it…


Added by B. G. Hearns on February 21, 2019 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 37 - The Important Effect of a Subtle Change in Posture

  Despite all I've read about how to position oneself in the saddle, and despite my best effort to follow advice, it is still easy to mis-understand, and easier still to slip into poor posture.

  So, re-reading the advice for beginners in the EC handbook, and re-reading Sally Swift's definitive work, and discussing it with my coach while doing my usual, strenuous riding without stirrups, we came to two observations, viz., that the stirrup bars and flaps of the standard European riding…


Added by B. G. Hearns on December 24, 2018 at 12:21am — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 36 - Strong Legs

   It astounds me, as I comb through back issues of magazine articles, online articles, and books on equitation, the degree to which I now find myself adding a mental asterisk to almost every exercise and lesson, especially whenever it mentions "quiet seat" or "keep the hands/legs quiet" or some such: *if you have enough leg strength.

  That little aspect rarely, if ever, get mentioned; it gets glossed over, in fact by almost everyone. Even Clinton Anderson, in his videos…


Added by B. G. Hearns on August 24, 2018 at 8:04am — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 35 - March Was a Good Month of Training

  As training went, March was pretty good.

  I got some stuff cleaned up around the arena that has been bugging me for a while. There is still a massive amount more to do, but almost all of the broken jump stands are now either repaired or removed, all of the broken poles have had the jagged parts cut off so they can be used as ground lines, or likewise trashed.

  The top bars on the jumps have been raised another hole, so that we are now jumping over obstacles about mid-thigh…


Added by B. G. Hearns on April 4, 2018 at 5:56pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 34 - Winter Again

   It's been a rather strenuous month, for me. Oakley has had it easy. The weather has been giving 30 degree swings, from 10C to -20C and back, which, of course, leads to melting and flash freezing into ice that is treacherous to move over (I don't ride over to the arena, we walk). I did manage to cover the path with freshly-used bedding from the compost pile during one of the brief warmish spells, so the footing, while frozen, is not ice.

   You see, I learned to work the tractor,…


Added by B. G. Hearns on February 9, 2018 at 5:30pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 33 - Three Pillars of Learning

   In our weekly lesson we are now jumping about 85cm (2'9") which probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but my desire is not to jump as high as possible in as short a time as possible, but rather to excel at going over jumps, raising the bar a bit at a time, and address whatever shortcomings become most obvious as the difficulty increases. My immediate goal, is to ride around in rhythm, to turn to the jump in rhythm, go over the jump in…


Added by B. G. Hearns on October 29, 2017 at 11:12pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 32 - Another Awakening

" Aucun homme ne peut rien vous révéler sinon ce qui repose déja à demi endormi dans l'aube de votre connaissance." Kalil Gibran

  My legs ache. All the muscles through my core ache. I can feel each and every one. That can only mean one thing: my riding must have improved.…


Added by B. G. Hearns on October 1, 2017 at 5:35pm — No Comments

Oakley Diaries - 31: First Half of the Year

Let's see...

I spent April travelling in Europe. I worked out a tour of sites I've long wanted to visit, for a variety of reasons. Of course horse-history is a big part of that, so I thoroughly enjoyed going to museums full of horse-armour and getting a definitive answer to a question that has bugged me for a long while, about the size of horses in the middle ages. It turns…


Added by B. G. Hearns on July 23, 2017 at 2:32pm — 1 Comment

Oakley Diaries - 30: 2016 Was An Awesome Year

Very many seem to treat this year a something of a kidney stone, and in much of the world, according to the news, it was. But in my little corner of the world, it was awesome.

First, I spent most of the year's focus on learning to jump, and teaching Oakley to jump. To learn, I hiked up the road a ways to another barn, got on school horses that would reliably jump. One cannot…


Added by B. G. Hearns on January 1, 2017 at 10:01am — 1 Comment

Oakley Diaries - 29: Not the Same Horse

That is the phrase for the week, that I have heard from three different people: "He is not the same horse." It is a complement, and a vindication of all the careful work I've been doing for the past 5 years, and particularly the last one.

One friend who has not seen Oakley in over a year came up to watch me ride & do some simple figures. She doesn't know a lot about horses,…


Added by B. G. Hearns on August 16, 2016 at 8:45am — No Comments

Oakley Diaries - 28: A Month of Firsts

It's been a good month. We started May off with a dressage competition and did very well. We took home a nice, red 1st place ribbon, although that almost doesn't count because the other  competitors in my class never showed, but what does count is our score, which is the highest he's ever got, and if we'd got that score at two previous competitions would have won then, and would have had at least 2nd or 3rd place…


Added by B. G. Hearns on June 12, 2016 at 7:30am — No Comments

Oakley Diaries - 27: April 2016 Thoughts

My dad used to say that anyone who cannot explain what they are doing so well that anyone can understand really doesn't know what they are doing.

No. That is wrong.

There are a great many people who know very well what they are about, yet who cannot explain anything very well at all. Knowing what you are…


Added by B. G. Hearns on April 24, 2016 at 10:24pm — 1 Comment

Oakley Diaries - 26: The Cha-Cha of Learning

"To an optimist, taking a step backwards after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's more like a Cha-Cha."

Seems like a great way to describe our progress, two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes two steps back.…


Added by B. G. Hearns on September 28, 2015 at 2:30pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries - 25: Nice Problem to Have

Oakley rushed a fence.
He's never done that before.
Eeeeeeeeeeeee! <= squealing sound much like an excited 6-year-old.…

Added by B. G. Hearns on August 9, 2015 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries - 24: Lightness

I've written a bit about lightness before, but "lightness" seems to be a potent trigger word that creates great emotionally charged discussion all over the 'net. Everyone seems to agree it is a Good Thing (TM) but no one can explain exactly what is meant or how to achieve it.

So this short post covers a simple, specific exercise I've found…


Added by B. G. Hearns on May 27, 2015 at 2:30pm — No Comments

The Oakley Diaries - 23: Taking Stock

I finally found a couple of free evenings and finished a sword-holder and stirrup lance-bucket, so I can now strap my repro 1908 British Cavalry Sabre onto my repro 1912 UP saddle and re-introduced Oakley to the sport of tent-pegging.

Last time we did this was over 2 years ago, and he was... skittish. He got terribly upset at the sound of the sword drawn from the scabbard, he was nervous about the sight of a drawn sabre, tried to escape from the waving pennant on the lance, and did…


Added by B. G. Hearns on February 6, 2015 at 9:43pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries - 22: A Game of Inches

Sometimes it just feels as if we're not getting anywhere. Another beautiful autumn, the last show of the year goes by and the difference between this month and last month is hard to discern. It seems as if we're just inching forward. We're fighting a World War I battle, a titanic struggle over a few yards, at great cost and effort with nothing to show.

And there is…


Added by B. G. Hearns on October 14, 2014 at 5:00am — 1 Comment

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