No New Years Resolutions here!

It’s January and so it’s time to look back on the year that has ended, see the highs and the lows, and look forward to the new year ahead.

I turned 30 on 1st January 2018 and I wasn’t all that happy about it. Where did my 20’s go? Many years had flown by and I hadn’t felt I had much to show for it. I’d learnt a lot from my 20’s though and I was determined to make 2018, and the start of my 30’s, a year to remember. I don’t think I’ve done too badly!!!

The year started with a New Year’s Day (Birthday) paddle on the Wye with a group of friends. Until now my ‘Important Day’ activity was always horse riding. I’ve been horse riding since I was 3 years old, and the sport isn’t going anywhere, but I am embracing the new things in my life and Kayaking is becoming a second passion. Just two weeks later I was booked in to my 3* Kayak assessment in the Lakes district. It was freezing cold and snowing at Lake Windermere, and on the second day I had a huge migraine and ended the day walking off the …

Bits and Pieces

Bits and biting isn't a small subject.  Here are my thoughts on bits, why I have chosen the one I use, and why I don't use certain other ones.
There are many variations on a bit which changes the action of the bit when pressure is applied to the rein, and many variations in metals and shapes that affects the comfort of the bit for your horse, both when resting in the mouth and when the reins are used.  Even just looking at the wide variety of snaffle bits available can be confusing.
My initial preference for a mouth piece is one that has two joints.  This is sometimes referred to as double jointed, with a lozenge, double broken, or 'french link'.  I prefer a bit with two joints over a bit with just one joint because it avoids a 'nut cracker' action.  A bit with just one joint, when pressure is applied to both reins (how most people stop) the two sides get drawn back and closer together, the centre join can then stick up in to the roof of the horses mouth, and …

Back to basics

It would be good for him to go back to basics... Maybe you should go over the basics again... Perhaps you need to go back to basics... It’s a good idea to go back to basics... and so on and so forth.  How many times have you heard one the above phrases?  How many times have you said one of them (or words to that effect)?
We all know that ‘going back to basics’ is a good idea, and at times could be necessary to help you move forward.  No matter where you have gotten to in your training and no matter where your horse is in his training, the basics are important.  If you don’t have some key fundamentals it won’t be long before you start to get problems and reach road blocks, and you have to go back and start all over again.  Many times you will have to undo some of the work you’ve done, in order to get the basics going right again, before you can move on!
How many times have you actually done it?  For more than five minutes?  For more than one day?  It isn’t a phrase anyone really wants…


Ok it's been a while again, especially since I wrote a horsey blog, so here we go.  I'm just going to recount a little story for you and then give you some of my thoughts on the subject.  The story came to mind while I was reading about confidence strategies today.
The other day I was riding a young horse.  I've been riding this particular mare for some time now.  She was sent away to be 'broken in' after the owner and I had done some basic groundwork to lay a good foundation for her.  I've then ridden her weekly to continue her education and build on that foundation in the saddle.  She's doing very well and is starting to find a little joy and relaxation on our rides.
We had taken a route that goes along the bottom of the woods, around the end and then back up through the trees to do a loop, before we would then make our way back to her field.  On the way up the hill she started to get a little extra 'keen', she pricked her ears forward and I coul…

Day 26 - the long drive home

It's Saturday and that means it's time to go home.  We all have things we want to get back to but I don't think anyone really wants the holiday to be over.  I certainly could do more paddling, but I do want to get back to our new house, which we moved in to 2 days before I left for this trip, and I want to visit my horse.  We've all had so much fun and there is plenty more we could still do, but it will have to wait for next year.  We're up and ready, final items packed and leaving the house at 7.40am.  Sat Nav ETA at Calais is 6.28pm, our ferry is at 7.50pm and we have to arrive by 7.10pm to check in.  This doesn't leave much room for rest stops but we usually find the Sat Nav doesn't take the best route and the toll roads are usually quite clear.

Keith and I have to make a stop for fuel as his car didn't get filled up yesterday, but we catch the group up by the time they have their first rest stop and breakfast.  We're keen to keep moving, so we …

Day 25 - guardian of the Guill

It's the last day for activities and as a slight break from tradition we have booked to do the rafting on the Châteaux Queryas gorge.  It's a fairly long drive and we've booked for 9am so we have to be up and out early. I'm a little tired but mostly in denial that it's our last day.  I don't want to get up because that means the holiday is nearly over. I don't want to miss rafting though. Last year was a blast on low water, and this year the levels are so high they weren't paddling the gorge last week, but we have confirmed we will be paddling it today!
A quick breakfast for everyone and kit sorted we make our way over to meet Vincent who owns the raft company.  The guy at the kayak shop in Guillestre says Vincent has been around so long they call him the guardian of the Guill, he knows every rock and the nicknames of all the trout in the river.  I heard about Vincent last year but he wasn't there the day we paddled last time. He is there this m…

Day 24 - Galibier & Guitar!

It’s Thursday and the penultimate activity day, so we are all going to ride down from Galibier (minus Keith due to his ankle sprain yesterday, and Trevor who decides to take a rest).I’m borrowing Trevor’s bike so Jess can borrow mine, and Matt is hiring a bike for the morning.It’s a later start today and we go up to the statue (not quite the top of the Col) for a group photo before we ride down. Tom Snr has ridden up the Col on his road bike and meets us there briefly before he finishes the climb and then cycles back again!We all group up at the main road crossing and from there we split in to two groups.I’ve felt ok with Trevors’ bike, but it’s another different bike to get used to and have had a couple of moments on the loose gravel where the wheels have slipped around a bit, the brakes are a bit sharper than mine!It’s much wetter on the ground than last year so we are all filthy already, and I realise that the go pro on my chest harness will be largely useless (unless I want a lon…

Day 23 - Climbing and more inflatable fun!

Day 23
It’s another day where the group has split up to do a variety of activities.A walk up the mountain to the Glacier has been planned and Rob, Chucky and Jess leave early for this.Bill, Tom Tom, Alex, Dylan, Tim and Jen are going back to run the racecourse again, as Tim and Jen’s run got cut short after Matt’s swim and the storm coming in yesterday.Ali is going with them to do shuttling and Matt is driving over that way to enjoy the scenery on the other side of Col de Vars.Sam, Gregg, Trevor and Jamie have plans to visit the silver mines not far from Embrun and Keith and I take the opportunity for a lazy morning and a small spot of climbing at Le Bez.

It’s about a 20 minute drive to the crag which is set up for sport climbing, nestled in to the mountains surrounded by trees so it’s an ideal shaded spot.We got ourselves kitted up and went to the wall to pick a route.Unfortunately, the board displaying the routes and their grades is no longer there and we don’t have a guide book, s…

Day 22 - Ubaye, inflatable assault course and metre pizza

Day 22 It’s Ubaye day!This means an earlier start than most mornings, but it’s still 8.30 before we are all ready and leaving.We head over Col de Vars with the obligatory stop to ‘take in the view’.We get to the get in for the upper upper section (I’m sure these have better names/descriptions in the guide book) and we wait there to meet up with Alex, Dylan, Tim and Jen who have stayed in this area last night.There’s a short technical section at the start here that some get on to do and the ones who opt out of this bit carry on down to the fort get in a couple of miles down the road.We split in to groups again, I’m with Keith, Sam, Alex, Matt and Rob.I’ve got my man and my safety blanket with me so I’m happy.I’m told this is pretty much a grade two bimble but I still get the new river nerves.I remember the upper section from last year and what a roller coaster it was.
We head off down river after a short brief from Keith who is leading us, I’m behind him with Alex next then Sam, as Sa…

Day 21 - A little woop and wiped out....

Day 21

Despite a good sleep, it was another late one last night.I’m super tired and once again struggling to stay on my feet.There’s a group going to do the Briancon Gorge today which is NFM (not for me), and Gregg and Chucky are staying at the house with plans to potter about and take it easy for a day.I’m going with Keith, Jamie, Sam and Rob to go and paddle the second half of the Sun Run on the Durance.This is the bit from Rab to Embrun which Sam and I didn’t paddle last time.I also didn’t do Rab wave last time either.
We get to Rabioux and have an inspection of the wave.It’s considerably lower than last week, but possibly still a little bigger than I ran it last year.We sort the shuttle then get ourselves kitted up.I’m feeling nervous, even a little sick and I can’t tell you why.It feels daft but I think maybe the fatigue is kicking in, and I’m a tad worried about going straight through Rab wave without much of a warm up.My internal monologue is very much external on the way down…