Sunshine & Stirrups

A brief update from this weekend. I was down at the stables twice this weekend which was lovely. A wee lesson & hack with a friend who was riding at the stables for the first time then Sunday I had my usual lesson.

The continuing beautiful weather means that we can’t canter outside and that the school is so dusty cantering in there is limited so there was a lot of walk and trot work this weekend. Although I did get one unexpected canter from Td!

Saturday’s session was lovely. Just a little short lesson in walk and trot in the school, my instructor was really checking my friend’s ability and I had to wake Td up! He was a little ploddy initially and wasn’t picking his feet up well in the trot so I gave him a little tap to remind him to use his back-end engine – I love that phrase by the way. Well, he sparked up entirely and we began to get a little out of control so I had to steady him a couple of times and he briefly broke into canter on one of corners. While I felt I had him back under control he still just makes me giggle, it just feels like he is rushing to get somewhere. After the short spell in the school, my instructor got Jm and we all proceeded to head out onto the tracks at the back of the farm. It was such lovely weather, blue skies and so sunny. The views were gorgeous, we could see all the way down to the Firth of Forth and with all the trees and many of the flowers in bloom it was a stunning landscape. The perfect way to see it is by horseback – or maybe that’s just me. With my terrible sense of direction I am rarely at the front of hacks (the phrase ‘Your other left’, has been used before) but with Td it is always advisable to put him at the front if you can. We did a bit of trotting outside during which I had to check Td quite a lot as he was convinced we should canter. I did release him halfway up one of the hills once he had got the message. On our journey back to the stables we were briefly on the road where I took the opportunity to test my riding and road safety skills.

There was a brief moment of panic by the horses when the motor bike who had kindly stopped to let us pass started his engine again and revved loudly. This sent Jm into a slight bit of a panic and Td shot forward but I had him back under control quickly. It isn’t the motorbiker’s fault but it is just another timely reminded as to why you can’t be complacent with horses on the road – after all these were all well-schooled responsive horses and it still gave them a shock (gave us all a shock too!)

Back in the stable I quickly washed Td down with lavender wash then had to turn him out as there were no other horses left in his stable block and Td is not happy about being left alone. He was being incredibly cute in the field drinking water then curling his top lip back after each mouthful. Even though he isn’t a particularly young horse I think I am always going to think of Td as a giant kid!

Sunday’s lesson was harder work and being at 3pm the school had just been heating up all day and was as dry as a desert. I got given B! Now I don’t often ride B, before I went for the beach ride on the Clydesdales last year I had a couple of private lessons on him to get used to the ‘throwing forward’ motion heavy horses do when moving into canter but I don’t think I have been on him since. One of my friend’s rides him and loves him but I just never felt I had clicked with him. I somehow always felt he was ‘letting’ me ride him rather than me being in control.

On Sunday it all felt a bit different. I did have problems getting him into corners and at times he would try to turn one way and I would have to fight him to get him to turn the way I wished to go. However, I think the turning issue was probably down to my balance as for a large horse he is incredibly responsive to the rider’s seat. The cornering issue is due to his size but I found it much easier to get him into the corners the faster he was going, I am not sure why that is. Last time I rode B I remember being quite scared by his speed, he fairly motors along in the school and I didn’t feel in control. Now I don’t know if it is because I have now ridden Ct or if it might be because even when P plays up I feel I can control him more but I actually felt in more control this time.

We did some trot work, circles and turns with us trying to achieve inside bend while keeping the horses out in the corners. My instructor asked me to push B on quite a bit and it felt like a fast trot but she said that he could do better. Once I had him in a better trot I found I could get him out to the corners much easier however I still had a problem of him transitioning back to walk unexpectedly. To try and change this I started to push him on more then use my inside leg to keep him moving while using circles and turns to slow him once he felt like he was gaining too much speed. This seemed to work much better and I was definitely relaxing and even warming to B, I kind of hadn’t expected that.

Next up…canter. Now again I was slightly unsure on this one, I have seen B pin his ears back and fly around that school but with the dust and how little cantering we have been doing I was pretty sure I could cope with him today. We were only doing one short canter on the left rein due to the desert-like conditions. I started off in trot with my instructor saying she would tell me when his trot was good enough to ask for canter, it took me a couple of corners to get a good trot then ….I got a brilliant transition from him. I mean so good that my instructor actually shouted ‘lovely transition’. I got a lovely controlled canter up and around the school before pulling him back to trot. The look of surprise on my face said it all as everyone else kept telling me it looked good.

After a wee cool down it was back to the stables where B proceeded to shove me about while I untacked him and lavender washed him. He is a very cuddly horse though and it perfectly happy for people to scratch his ears and belly all day long while he chews contentedly on his haylage. I also helped my friend with Am as she can be a little bite-y when being dealt with and unfortunately managed to take a chunk out of said friend’s arm previously.

Another lovely weekend spent bumbling around at the stables, I could get used to this – although I doubt my bank balance could. Back to a bit of Riding & Road Safety revision next week, wish me luck. Oh and no motorbikes would be great šŸ˜‰

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