Cantering a Giraffe

So this week I have been doing some running,  tried a new Pilates class, tried to force my inflexible body into yoga positions and had another private horse riding lesson.

I ran the Hairy Haggis Relay yesterday (awesome name) and will put up a wee race review later on in the week but just to say it was great fun, very inspiring to run alongside all these amazing marathoners who were all doing brilliantly. We did it for charity and it gave us all a little boost as we raced around. My team came in first out of the three teams we had running so I am very chuffed. More to follow, but in the meantime here is a photo of my blisters – who says I ain’t hardcore???

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Last week I did a couple of short runs and one intense speed session but only because I was late to my new Pilates class and had to bolt down the road as fast as I could. I believe I made a great sweaty, bright red first impression! The other runs didn’t inspire me with confidence for either the relay or the seven hills as I had to walk for a bit on Arthur’s Seat and promptly got lost following rabbit paths which meant I was running back and forth in front of bemused tourists enjoying the view. However, after a week of swimming and lying in the sun I guess it was to be expected that I wouldn’t be the fastest I could have been. I did enjoy the runs though and that suggests that I needed the break more than I had realised.

After quitting my last Pilates class due to the direction the teacher was taking, great class just not for me. I was a little apprehensive about starting another, all that I am after is an improvement in my core strength. The class was great, a complete beginner’s class which was good for me – it got me focusing on my breathing and the simple movements. The instructor was good and helped me when I asked questions, I generally seem to have my leg muscles switch on to hold me in position rather than my core so she was helping me with that.

I had a private horse riding lesson this week on Friday as it was a busy weekend with a friend’s wedding on Saturday (she looked amazing and a lovely day) then the relay marathon on Sunday. I was really pleased to be going since the last time I had been on a horse I had just ended up sad (see my previous post).

There was also some sunshine which is practically unheard of in Scotland at the minute although the ever-present wind was still there making for another round of ex-foliation from the school floor. I was given Ct again, which was interesting. I am beginning to develop quite a large soft spot for him, I particularly likes the way he bends down to nuzzle you when you go to his stable. I am sure he is just expecting you to have brought him a treat but it is still very cute. However, while I was mounting he did walk away from the mounting block making me have to slightly jump to stay with him which lost him some brownie points.

Another good lesson getting to know how to work a horse to help him loosen off and come into the aids more.We did lots of walking, changes of reins and circles with my instructor working on me getting him to look into the centre but without him falling in. I had the inside rein a little out and squeezing then releasing it while keeping the outside rein up and my inside leg on. Whew! It felt like a lot to co-ordinate and I am not going to pretend that I managed it that successfully all the time but when I did get it correct it felt really good. We first decreased the circles then increased the circles going around and around my instructor until she was happy. I have to remember to ride each section of the circle instead of trying to ride the whole circle in a oner. Once I thought about them as segments I was finding I was getting a much better shape.

I was told that with Ct initially I may have to have my reins much shorter than I would usually, keeping my elbows bent as this makes him come to me rather than straightening my elbows to allow him more rein. It felt strange at first as I do have a tendency to sometimes almost throw my reins away. Then we moved onto trot, again we were practising circles and leg yielding to check if he was on the aids for me. He started to snort a lot and as I looked to my instructor she explained that this was him starting to submit, sure enough he moved his head and neck into the perfect position with his poll still high and suddenly felt light in my hands! His leg yielding became much easier and he was looking where I asked each time.

Now since I didn’t canter Ct before I had assumed I wouldn’t in this lesson either. My instructor told me to take up jump position in the trot then asked me to ask Ct for canter, whew he flew into canter for me immediately. All I can say is thank goodness I was off his back, it was not the most comfortable canter I have had  but did feel rhythmical. We did a series of short canters on both reins with my instructor explaining that he finds it difficult to balance hence why we are asked to get off his back in the school, it makes it much easier for him to focus on getting himself around the corners without the need to balance the rider. I might be getting Ct more as they want more left-handed riders to ride him to improve his left side meanwhile I actually need to improve my right side as once again my heel was coming up.

I was trying to come up with a good way to describe Ct’s canter and the best one I can think of is Phoebe from the TV show Friends – when she runs – that’s what his canter feels like! It feels like each leg is operating independently and he is just going ‘Well I am going faster!’. An absolutely brilliant horse and I do hope I get to ride him more.

WWC coupons left: 38
Miles run: 23.1

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