Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Horse Hero Filming

I spent yesterday doing something very familiar to me but at the same quite different, as I was involved in some trick training filming for Horse Hero. In case you've not come across it, Horse Hero is a website described as 'a paradise for horse lovers', where you can watch an almost infinite number of videos on everything equestrian you can possibly imagine. Amongst others, there is also a section where many equestrian celebrities write blogs, a couple of which I read regularly such as the fantastic trainer Tanya Larrigan (whose book 'New Sensations for Horse and Rider' is a must read!), and Jo Eccles, the Scottish vaulter who is now European Champion. (Special mention for the lovely John Eccles who very kindly let me compete on his fantastic horses more than once, back in the day!).
Fiona and Lucy arrived in the morning, and got straight down to business by telling me I didn't look smart enough - and I'd even put clean jeans on! Admittedly, my coat is pretty grubby, but as I spend most of my time with muddy horses and muck heaps it's hardly surprising! Anyway, I soon raided Becca's clothes and found something that met their requirements, and I have to agree I did look better! Having relayed this story to Becca she burst out laughing and said its definitely the first time anyone has ever borrowed her clothes to smarten up!!
Spruced up and ready it was time to start filming. We started off with Aristo, who has never had any trick training. Aristo is a four year old stallion, and although he is broken in he hasn't done any work for the past six months. Come spring he will be off to learn polo before hopefully becoming a polo stud - lucky him! However, today was his big day - and having never really even handled him I was a bit apprehensive about how he was going to behave. I needn't have worried - he was fantastic! Considering all he's done since the summer is wander around the field, and then all of a sudden he got brought in, brushed and then spent the best part of an hour being trick trained, he couldn't have done better. I started with the head shake, which he did perfectly a couple of times, before getting wise to me tickling him and just ignoring me! We then moved on to the leg cross, which he took to really well, even balancing himself enough to bring his leg back rather than fall out of it after just a few attempts - very impressive. Finally we started the kiss, which he also worked out very quickly, and unlike Casper refrained from licking my face! I was so impressed with him, he is a clever little thing and I'm sure if I were to carry on the training with him he'd pick everything up super fast - I'm now a big fan of his!
Having shown how to start a novice horse off with some basic tricks, it was then time to demonstrate the finished tricks with my two boys. We all trudged through the muddy field to the school (which was still half covered in snow!), and started the filming with Tinker. I introduced him as 'my professional horse who I can take anywhere and I know he'll perform', which was a big mistake! To be fair to him he did do all his dancing, but it was sooooo lack lustre he looked like he was about to die of boredom. It was almost as if he was saying 'Where's the audience? Where's the music? Where's my applause? I'm not going to bother unless it's worth it.' Just like a true artiste!!
Thankfully Casper saved the day. He is the most enthusiastic little horse - I think he's stolen Tinker's quota too! He did all his tricks really well, although some were quite over zealous - the Spanish walk was more like a speedy Spanish stomp, and the kiss was definitely a dirty great snog! I was really pleased with him, he kept focused on me throughout the session, managing to ignore both the camera and Tinker in the background - a definite improvement from the pantomime! Having finished the filming he then did more tricks for the camera, you can see the snaps Fiona took of us by clicking here. (Or see some in the Horse Hero gallery by clicking here - we're right at the bottom).
I really enjoyed doing the filming, although I did find it quite difficult sometimes - I never realised how much I say 'umm' - must try and stop that! It was also hard to give a running commentary as to what I was doing. The reactions you need to give to reward the horse when you get the desired behaviour are far quicker than I can talk, so I think I may have stumbled over my words a bit. Afterwards, I also thought of loads of things I should have said but didn't - typical! It was good fun though, and I hope very much I get to do it again one day!
Hopefully the finished videos will be up on the site early to mid February, and as soon as they are I'll put a link up so you can watch them (unless I'm horrific in which case I won't tell anyone!!).
We're doing our vaulting group again on Saturday, so I'll take some more photos and tell you how we got on next week.
Lots of love
Rosie xx

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