“Get that horse out of that tree”

So before I move on to discuss the horse riding lesson that inspired the title I thought I would mention my weekend run. It has been a while since I have run with my running friends, one is pregnant, one has moved to New Zealand and one hasn’t been around to run in the last couple of weeks. On Saturday she was back and wanting to run. We have been starting our training plan for the seven hills and Saturday was the first long run 9 miles and to encompass two of the hills. We decided to do the Braid Hill and Blackford Hill. It was a beautiful day and everything combined to make for a perfect run. Blue skies, sunshine and trail running through amazing scenery. We stopped at the trig points of both hills to stand and admire the views. It was tough going and we need to improve our hill fitness but it reminded me why we run. It allows you to forget everything else and certainly challenges me in a way that other things do not. I felt strong on Saturday and ended up running 11.3 miles in total and enjoying every minute, it isn’t every run that you get that – often I have to drag myself out to complete a run but when I do I always feel better. I reckon I am a runner through and through now! Although I still have to sort my diet out, pizza and chips to follow a run like that, no wonder I didn’t feel great on Sunday.

I had a week away from riding last weekend and I was looking forward to getting back. However, on Sunday morning something strange happened. I couldn’t stop focusing on my fall from a few weeks ago, each time I thought about riding I kept thinking I would get P and I would come off again. I’m not sure if it was down to the weather, which while dry was incredibly windy – always fun in the school. I genuinely have no idea what caused it, does anyone else feel like that I wonder? One of my friends at the stables did mention that following her beach ride last week that she was convinced she would fall this week so maybe it was something in the air.

When I got there and checked the diary I had been given C. I have never ridden C before! Immediately I was nervous, he is difficult to ride, you have to really work hard with him. He is absolutely huge (I was able to easily hide behind him in the yard), shies when he is hacked out and I have only ever seen experienced riders on him. Eek! Our instructor arrived and told me that I didn’t need to canter him today, instead I was to get used to him and how to handle him, she stressed that I wasn’t to feel disheartened to not canter him but rather to focus on the fact that I needed to be in control of him.

First task, get on him. For a large lad he is slightly nervy and we had a couple of moments in yard where a tarpaulin led to me having to try to calm him down while he danced around me. I thought I did quite well considering this was my first time with him and he seemed nice and responsive to me. Once on I felt like I towered over everyone else even MJ! So I led the way to the school promptly hitting myself off a gate then ending up in a tree prompting the comment that led to the title. Once in the school I felt nervous, but looked forward to being helped to get to know him and looked expectantly at my instructor. I wasn’t expecting her to give me a task ‘Steph, get to know C and figure things out yourself, if he isn’t doing something work out how to.’! Eek. That was a new one. I noticed that he seemed to fall in badly on the right rein. I worked on getting my weight down my inside leg and pressing my leg against the girth to ease him out, then I lifted my outside rein. It seemed to work, my instructor shouted ‘too subtle Steph, he is a big guy give him big movements’. It felt like I had my hand up at my face but all of a sudden we were in the corner.

The next thing we were learning about was tracking-up, under-tracking and over-tracking. Tracking-up is where during the walk the back hooves of a horse move into the imprints left by the front hooves, this is an average to good walk. Over-tracking is where the back hooves pass the imprints of the front hooves this is the best walk while under-tracking shows the horse is not using its ‘engine’ i.e. its back-end. All great stuff and we went off to practise, everyone was doing brilliantly – one of the girls had her horse tracking-up immediately. It took me a little longer with C but then he responded. I was starting to really feel he was listening to me, in trot we sped along but he would circle and halt for me when asked. At one point I thought we were about to break into canter for sure but just realised that his trot is that fast. My instructor just told me to go with him and manoeuvre him around everyone. Everyone else did a couple of canters, some beautiful transitions going on I was secretly hoping I might get to canter C but the call never came. An interesting thing to note was the bend I started to get in his neck towards the end of the lesson, apparently this was him responding to be and dropping into the correct position. It looked beautiful and with his Mohican style mane some of my fellow classmates commented on how good it looked.

All in all a great lesson. I have another favourite (I think they are all my favourites). C is a gentle giant, back in the stall he nuzzled me while I brushed him off and even allowed me to hug him (sad I know but he was a true gent with me). I did nearly crash into a couple of people today I tended to forget how big his stride was and how responsive he was, next time I will remember that. Roll on the next time with him, maybe I will get to canter him – although someone did say it feels like cantering on a giraffe 🙂

Miles run: 14.5

WWC Coupons left: 51

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