The First Long Hack of the Year!

A quieter weekend this weekend. No race but there was a 2hr hack at the stables today. A tough training run yesterday, only eight miles but it showed that this was the longest run I have done since I was ill at the end of February. I signed up to the seven hills challenge at the end of last week so I am now in training mode, I want to enjoy this race and use it to make my half marathon times drop. I will put a post up about my training plans soon.

After a lovely night out with friends on Saturday it was cold but dry on Sunday for our first two hour hack of the year. My friend who I original starting riding with six (!) years ago was coming on this hack too, unfortunately we no longer ride together each week but try to ensure we ride at each others stables when we can.

When we got there we discovered it was quite a big ride, a couple of girls I didn’t know but who seemed nice. I didn’t get much chance to talk as they were on MJ and B at the front while I was to the back with Mr K. He is the horse I rode on the beach, he is brilliant on a long hack always seems to have energy to spare but nice and responsive even if you have to perhaps ask him to slow down a couple of times before he listens. I always think that if he was a person he would be a fell runner in his sixties indignant at everything.

It is lovely countryside that we have to hack in, often in the summer rather than a lesson we will just hack for the hour. In the early autumn we get to use the stubble fields to canter through, it is a great spot. We are also always getting taught about how to judge the speed that we can go on different tracks, why we would canter in particular places and not others and we are also remind about how to ride correctly on the roads and to be courteous to other path and track users. So quite often it is still a lesson!

The ground is terrible out on the tracks at the minute, there was lots of snow over the last couple of weeks which has been falling, melting then the next day the same. Our instructor had hoped that by venturing further from the stables the ground would improve but it wasn’t the case. There was sticky mud and in places we would normally trot close to the stables we had to walk through. Mr K has a good pace at walk, if you push him on he is happy to walk quickly. We just had to enjoy the beautiful day, sunshine finally returned to this part of Scotland although it was still freezing cold.

When trotting we were going through sticky, gloopy mud sucking the horses’ hooves into it. Our usual long canter track was unusable, we could trot but only in parts. Mr K was not happy, had to keep reminding him trot only. He is good if you work the reins a few times he does respond happily but he was desperate to canter and unhappy that he couldn’t in the place we normally get a brilliant long canter. All the horses were the same. Our instructor kept trying to find patches to canter but none there.

We tried to find decent canter ground in the next stretch but lead file told us ahead was too boggy. I was having to check Mr K constantly on that stretch. I did get a great trot from him though. There were some people on dirt bikes, scaring Mr K a little but mainly he seemed indignant that they were there and he wasn’t allowed to canter.

We finally found a bit under the trees after the old railway and we set off. at the speed of light! Or so it felt, all the horses were so happy to get a canter. Mr K can motor, he was brilliant. T in front kicked branches in front of us and he jumped out of the way, swerving. I had good balance on him which meant I didn’t move at all but he makes it easy then I just had to push him on to ensure we didn’t lose the others. Brilliant. That was our only canter but it was a decent length and good speed.

Homeward bound and after that canter all the horses had calmed down slightly. We had some nice trotting, using the time to practise forward seat, moving my arms in walk and getting my balance and weight down both legs.

I think I am going to have a weekend off riding this weekend as I have a 10k for a mate’s 30th. It will not be a PB but I am going to try to do consistent pace.

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