Ponies & Pizzas

I mentioned previously that my stables were closed for two weeks then I happened to be away on holiday for the weekend they re-opened which meant a whole three weeks with no riding. Whew, so obviously what you should do here is ease yourself back in or… do as I do which was to have a 3 hour hack on the Friday night and then a lesson on the Sunday. Currently my legs are questioning who authorised this decision.

So Friday night was a new venture for the stables, the adults who ride there frequently badger our instructors about the fact that the kids get ‘own a pony’ days, picnic rides and little mini pony camps while we don’t. So in the first of a few evening rides we had a beer & pizza night, with horses. It was a brilliant idea and worked really well. Someone drove the horse box up to a picnic site and left it there with the hay nets all set up and the drinks, seats, napkins etc all in the back then came back down the road. Then we all arrived, placed our order for pizza and set about getting our horses ready – I had the lovely Mr K again who greeted me with a look of ‘this is clocking off time so why do I have a saddle on?’

We only walked and trotted as due to the warm weather the ground is like concrete out there and the usual canter tracks were dusty and solid – you could hear the hoof beats in trot very loudly. Of course the fact we couldn’t canter didn’t stop Mr K having a shot at cantering at every opportunity. He is one of the nimblest horses I think I have ridden – you have to keep a check on him but once you have done that he is fine with trotting. I was also taught quite early on that he is one of the horses who if you don’t work the reins i.e. squeeze then release he will fight you and speed up anyway leaving you feeling like you have no control. I also love the fact that to catch up with the bigger horses after a pee stop he tends to try and canter rather than trot. I was caught out by this once before so I am now on to him and make sure to check him during the trots.

It was a truly beautiful night. We were pretty much undisturbed heading out and back from the picnic spot and were encouraged to move around chatting to others but we didn’t quite manage it – I think we were still all a little ‘no we will stick with what we are comfortable with’. It was lovely though to just be able to chat and chill out while riding through the countryside.

The picnic was really well organised, our pizzas were waiting for us and there was plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to go around – I think I should have drunk more water as I felt pretty ropey later on. Mr K was happy with his hay net although I had to spend a little time convincing him that he wanted it rather than to have a good itch using my back as a scratching board. The horses were all given a good drink and wiped with lavender wash before we settled down to eat. Ct is not great at staying tied up so his rider ended up holding him but he was a pest! A cute, funny pest. He wouldn’t stop trying to eat everyone’s pizza, drink the beer and cider then decided to eat the tree above us all promptly causing a shower of leaves into our pizzas 🙂

By the time we got back it was over four hours since we left and while I had a great time I was starting to feel really unwell (dehydration and totally my own fault – I am old enough and ugly enough to know that I should drink more). I put that down to the mistake I made when turning out Mr K (with his harem of women T and Au), I left his head collar on and just unclipped his rope. Immediately I realised my mistake and had to chase after him, luckily for me if you walk up to him with confidence Mr K just stays where he is so it didn’t take long but still very embarrassing – I know better than that!

Sunday’s lesson took place early in the morning, which can only be a good thing as the temperature just kept climbing and even though it was warm I felt ok. Now, I know my instructor well enough to have realised that if I said I hadn’t ever ridden Jm on Friday night’s ride then a lesson was heading my way sometime soon. Now Jm is the type of pony I have always feared. A wee rascal essentially. He bucks going into canter, will happily potter off and do his own thing unless checked and has sometimes flown round the school so fast you just see the dust. I have a fear of bucking, no matter how many times I have managed to sit to it and I have managed to sit to it all I remember are the falls at my previous stables. This raises my nerves, I’m not ashamed to admit I hoped I would never ride Jm so it was with a sinking heart I went to the stable to get him.

Then I couldn’t get him out of his stable, no matter with all the pulling, the tapping, the turning he wasn’t budging. I was getting quite nervous now, what was this lesson going to be like if I couldn’t even move my horse from the stable?? Of course my instructor came along and he immediately moved forward and out the stable. At this point I must have had a face like a slapped arse as my instructor said ‘Do not ride Jm with an attitude, he will not respond to you if you have an attitude. You will love him.’. Yeah right I thought.

Due to the dust in the school we did a lot of our lesson in one of the fields, which is quite fun. We were trotting around bushes in figures of eight, trotting around different objects to check the bend on the horses and doing transitions from walk to halt and walk to trot. And if I am honest I started to love Jm even at this point! Every time I took my eye off him he would hare off towards the gate and look at it as if to say ‘Well I am done!’ then once I had got him listening a bit more then I found he kept wanting to go and hang out with my instructor, again very cute and also made me realise I had to work with him. He did a little jump up in the air and tripped a few times making me giggle away. He kept looking surprised every time we met one of the other horses, in other words he has character.

Now the part came that I was dreading – off to the school for canter work. Now I have seen Jm canter and he bucks like a trooper going into it, not always but often and it is only him trying to sort himself out there is no malice in it, you can see that. So off we went towards the school, first to go for the canter was T and as always she did it beautifully (the lass riding her was brilliant), then P was up now he did buck like a mad wee thing but his rider sat very well and the instructor shouted to kick him on and he immediately settled and they had a beautiful canter down the long side ot the school. My turn…

Well he went like a rocket, I got a lovely transition, I barely needed to move my outside leg and we flew around the school. I don’t think I took a breath but that’s something to work on. My instructor told me that I had essentially stood up in the stirrups so that next time I had to try and sit to his canter. On the other rein I was essentially a bit lazy and didn’t ask properly expecting another easy transition but no luck. It was my third attempt before I got him cantering but it was another beautiful but quick canter, we even got a lovely turn across the school in. What a star!

By the time we were finished the sun was really hammering down and the school is like a little sun trap at the best of times so we made sure they were washed down with lavender wash and given a good drink. I gave Jm lots of fuss and attention which he seemed to enjoy. He did keep getting a fright from his automatic water trough as whenever he drank it would make a funny noise while refilling. Quite cute really. So what did I learn? Never, ever judge a pony before you have ridden it. Oh and hold on tight if you canter Jm 🙂

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