The Grumpiest Princess

So this week we have a new face join our Saturday run. One of my friends from the University running group I belong to has decided to do the 7 Hills challenge with us and wanted to do a route reccie as she doesn’t know the route at all. She is also a speedy person, clocking in at around a 43 minute 10K which is currently 10 minutes faster than my SB. In the end we managed 12.5 miles with 3.5 hills, my legs are still tired today and I have a hacking cough which isn’t helping me to feel fighting fit.

The hills were still tough on Saturday but we were faster than last Saturday, probably helped by the fact we had run the route once before. I still needed to walk on all the hills which I am not happy with. I want to feel stronger so I am planning in some hill sessions and strength work for my legs.

I also noticed that this week my stomach felt completely empty even with the one gel I had around mile 8, I think I need to start taking more energy gels with me as you can’t keep moving once your body has used up all your energy stores. On a positive note with that my diet has been improving, I am still eating too much junk but my meals are becoming healthier. On the recommendation of one of sales people in a running shop I also tried SiS REGO Rapid Recovery in Chocolate after the run and for the first time in about a month I had an enjoyable Saturday afternoon. I still had a nap but hey it is Saturday and I was out dancing Saturday night so needed my rest πŸ™‚

Fingers crossed but that combined with SiS GO Electrolyte in my water beforehand (I don’t work for SiS or have any affiliation but this stuff really worked this week) seemed to help with how unwell I have been feeling. It will take a few weeks for me to work out if this is helping me properly or if I just had a good day but factor in my improvement in diet and who knows?

Now last week I mentioned that when riding I am not entirely evenly balanced. I had this brought home to me in a slighly alarming manner during Sunday’s lesson. It was another windy, windy day at the stables (seriously I would like one day when it doesn’t feel like you are getting exfoliated by the dust in the school) and T was in a foul mood when I got to her hence the title that I borrowed from (thanks – it is a very accurate description of T).

Like most recreational riders I like the interaction with the horse, sorting my stirrups, fussing about over them, grooming them after and rugging them up but with T you can’t do any of that as she kicks and bites so the instructors need to do most of it for you which is a shame. On Sunday she was in a particular grump and had made such a fuss with her saddle that she was tied up in the yard and not in her stable. I chatted away to her as I led her to the block but she seemed determined to ignore I was even there. Then as I was mounting she tried to bite my arse, not a great start.

Off we went to the school. T is great as she is a very experienced riding school pony, however this means she often does exercises correctly but not at the correct pace. I spent a lot of time trying to keep her in trot but she seemed determined to stop on all the turns. I could feel myself getting frustrated with her and that’s really not very fair.

We were once again practising our tracking-up and over-tracking then moving on to try to create ‘v’ shapes with the horses legs while in trot. We were doing this exercise one by one around the track while the others watched in the middle, this was really interesting to see the change in the horse’s movement when they began to trot with more power. Our instructor was telling us to focus on how it felt when the other members of the class told us the horse was making ‘v’s. We had to ride the full school then turn across the diagonal without breaking stride from the trot.

The first two members of the class who went both had their horses making ‘v’s almost immediately and given how T had not been responding as well as I had hoped I wasn’t expecting to be good enough straight away and neither we were. Coming up the long side of the school my instructor told me to give T a tap behind the leg with my stick as wasn’t powering from behind. The change was instant, it was if T finally understood that we had to work in this lesson and the trot was perfect she was making perfect ‘v’s and didn’t break when we turned. Her trot also felt good enough to pop her into canter which is how it should feel when we are working properly, definitely a good trot by the end. When we went back to working in open order, putting in circles of varying sizes and serpentines T was feeling a lot livelier, I need to remember to get her going at the start of a lesson. I just trust her to always be moving forward and forget that sometimes you need to ask for the power.

Next up came the call to clear the outside track for canter work. As we work in open order you are expected to continue to work your horse in order to be ready to take the outside track and canter when you are called. It has taken a while but we are all usually aware enough to ensure we are away from the track and that when we canter we need to be aware of the other horses movements.

The 1st canter was a left rein canter. This is my best side but unfortunately T’s worse, we had a couple of delayed transitions initially where I hadn’t been quick enough to back up my ask and she struck into canter on the straight and on the wrong leg. I ended up having ask three times which I find a little embarrassing as I feel my canter transition should be better by now! Once in the canter she was going beautifully and I easily kept her on the track and in the corners by keeping my left leg on her side. She also keep a lovely pace so when we pulled back to trot I gave her lots of praise.

Next up the right rein, after watching my friend canter B beautifully around the school it was our turn….and that’s when the fun happened. Our instructor realised we were pushed for time so shouted that we needed to canter on our first corner. Great transition from T and we even got a compliment (rare occurrence for me :)). Going up the long side I was trying to concentrate on keeping her going with my inside leg but my natural tendency to push on the left stirrup seemed to override me. All of a sudden in the corner I realised my saddle was moving to the left, my instructor was shouting to put weight in the right stirrup but by now my foot was almost at T’s shoulder. I pulled her back to trot and managed to jump off whilst she was still moving, I landed on my feet and pulled her to a halt. My saddle was now sitting pretty much 90 degrees to the left!

Everyone else was very confused, initially I think they thought I had fallen off but once I assured them I had voluntarily jumped off and I was okay. I asked what I had done wrong, essentially I had put all my weight into my left stirrup so much so I had wrenched the saddle around T’s back. I felt terrible, especially when told that it would have hurt her a lot when it twisted. I let her eat a couple of pieces of grass before we sorted the saddle and I got back on her. My instructor did say that I was also lucky as often it the saddle moves so much the horse can bolt, T was a star for listening to me and slowing when asked. There was only five minutes of so left and as the remainder of the class cantered I left T have a stretch and cool down. After the lesson I gave her back a good rub down and gave her lots of praise. I have definitely learnt my lesson on getting my weight balanced!

More exciting news as well as the beginner’s dressage lecture tomorrow night I am starting the BHS Riding and Road Safety course at the weekend! I am really looking forward to this course and have fancied it for a while. It does mean I will be at the stables twice a week for six weeks I think so I will have to plan my time wisely.

Miles run: 16

WWC Coupons left: 39 (new running trainers and a dress! -will update in the round up)


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