B. G. Hearns's Blog (52)

The Oakley Diaries 52 - Back in the Saddle

After almost a year, my hip is good enough to swing over the cantle again. Likely, I'll have this soreness for the rest of my life, but at least physio has  got me back into the saddle.

For the better part of the year, I've been doing once, and sometimes twice, a week ground work. That is, as I've said before, something that most riders never learn, but I think it is far more important than most people ever grasp. Groundwork is not just running a horse around in circles, but there are…


Added by B. G. Hearns on October 29, 2022 at 9:01am — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 51 - March Madness

The month of March was one of... winter is over... not it's not... yes, finally.... no, it's back.... now it's clear... no, still more snow...make up your mind!!

So annoying.

Eager plans to get busy training were stopped cold (yeah, pun intended) by the vagaries of weather. Kind of hard to work on a rope when confronted with freezing whiteout conditions and whipping winds. Of course, on the days I wasn't planning to train, because of my day job, the weather was warm and…


Added by B. G. Hearns on April 4, 2022 at 12:59pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 51 - Another Hiatus

Another year, another hiatus until Spring.

This time, it's my hip. Last summer, the hip which has always been a little 'off' got very sore, so I went to a physio yet again, but this time the treatment has vastly improved things.

What I noticed was that when I did the treatment, the pain lessened, but when I got astride a horse, the pain came back with a vengeance. It's a pretty quick realization that if I want the hip to heal more, I'd best give riding a break, so no being on…


Added by B. G. Hearns on January 20, 2022 at 7:09am — 1 Comment

Oakley Diaries 49 - The Quiddity of Riding in Summer Sun 2020

This is a good summer, so far.

Last winter, I decided that I would just take it easy, no galloping through the snow in the blowing wind. my appetite for bitterly cold winds and frozen hands has severely diminished. Not this year. I did feel well enough, in January, to begin once again, with my 5BX fitness program, since it starts so gently, it was good way to get back into fit shape. Oakley got occasional grooming, maybe an apple or a carrot, and just hang out for a bit. No riding,…


Added by B. G. Hearns on July 15, 2021 at 12:21pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 48 - January Winds

After taking two months off since my rotational fall, I got back in the saddle once for a nice, quiet ride across the now empty farm fields that stretch along the ridge behind the barn. I didn't even think of going into the sand ring. We just had a nice, calm walk and no excitement, no trotting, no workout. He skirted around the fallen trees from the wind-storms and we didn't go into the forest because of the fallen trees in the forest. We probably wouldn't have gone in anyway because I…


Added by B. G. Hearns on January 20, 2021 at 10:03pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 47 - No Ride November

It is snowing today. It snowed like this exactly one month ago, which saved my life. I'll explain.

On the day after it snowed, I went for our usual training, some trotting over cavaletti, some canter - stop - turn on haunches - canter again; nothing we haven't done a dozen times before.

But suddenly Oakley decided he'd had enough and threw his nose in the air, then reared. He went up, then slipped, and, before I could get out of the saddle, he was above me, and we both landed…


Added by B. G. Hearns on December 1, 2020 at 8:23pm — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 46 - Labour Day Ride

We got invited to the Eglinton Caledon Hunter Pace meet on Labour Day. Not an actual hunt, but a long course across country, very far from the city. I think I've found Oakley's calling.

The course is simple, we follow a marked trail 19km long, which wends its way over hill and dale, across meadows around crops, along paths and through woods. Sometimes we walked, sometimes we trotted, sometimes we cantered, and sometimes we galloped full out. Still kind of fun to pass my friends like…


Added by B. G. Hearns on September 14, 2020 at 8:54am — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 45 - Summer 2020

We began the summer, after the Solstice, with some relaxing of the COVID-19 health restrictions. Finally, open-air competitions were allowed, and, glory be... there was a weekend with a training meet and I wasn't working! The competition was a teaching format, which means day one, I went round the entire course with a coach, over all the jumps, and day 2 went round again, but as a competition.

So we spent the first training day doing well enough, our dressage was sloppy... much…


Added by B. G. Hearns on August 28, 2020 at 9:31am — 1 Comment

The Oakley Diaries 44 - Long Enforced Rest

I have taken advantage of the current pandemic crisis management to give my hip a chance to heal. I came down very hard on it last October. The thing is, Oakley always bolts leftwards or wheels so he can bolt leftwards, which always leaves me hanging out of the saddle to the right side. For the first five years or so, then, I was falling out of the saddle onto my right hip into sand, grass, packed earth, ploughed fields, roads, bushes, and everywhere else he could find to drop me. It's the…


Added by B. G. Hearns on May 25, 2020 at 5:38pm — 2 Comments

Oakley Diaries 43 - Reviewing the Basics

   As the winter goes along, we are reviewing all the basics. I firmly believe that this needs to be done over and over, and other professional instructors, some expounding on YouTube, others in writing, have offered firm support for this concept.

   The principal is simple, the more one does something, the smoother and better one becomes at it. In the case of horse training, the basics are fundamental movements which, put together, allow for more complex, or difficult movements. In…


Added by B. G. Hearns on January 29, 2020 at 1:50pm — 2 Comments

The Oakley Diaries 42 - A Goal Achieved

   We finally achieved a short-term goal that I'd set, which is, to clear 4' (1.2m).


   Early this year, I'd set that as a goal to work towards, because I firmly believe that one must always have a goal in everything, something to work towards. A goal gives one a reason to do things, to learn, to improve. Goals also measure milestones, points where one can look back and feel a sense of achievement.

   I also believe one should have at least one…


Added by B. G. Hearns on December 7, 2019 at 9:38am — 1 Comment

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

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