So this weekend it was another double riding session. I think that as well as this being due to the opportunity both literally and financially of riding twice a week it has at least in part been due to the fact I can’t run.
Riding & Road Safety
Saturday was an opportunity to work on our riding and road safety manoeuvres. I have ridden out on the road quite a lot and feel confident about that along with the written part however the more complicated simulated route I was not so sure of so this was a great opportunity to work on this. This is a series of different obstacles you could come across on the road and we are taught how to negotiate them in the relative safety of the fields at the stables with beams for kerbs and flour for road markings. There are even fake traffic lights!
I have been riding the beautiful Am and the bolshy but sweet HB for Riding and Road Safety so far but on Saturday the stables were quieter and we were all able to have a horse each as many more were available. As the tallest person there by a country mile (to be fair the majority are kids) I was given MJ. Now MJ is a big horse, they believe there is some shire in him and he is a beautiful dun colour and his coat changes with the seasons. He is a friendly lad although he doesn’t like to work too hard. 🙂
I have ridden quite a lot with the lass who has him on loan from the stables so I have seen how fantastic he can be. Many of my friends in our group lesson also enjoy riding him but I have rarely had the chance to ride him and was wondering about him in the riding and road safety environment.
Well I found him difficult. I found him difficult to get moving and difficult to stop him from hugging the fake kerbs of the road or taking me into the electric fence. I assumed the electric fences wasn’t on as he was literally leaning on it and my stirrup was touching it but then I heard the shout, ‘Get off the fence, it is on!’. Woops. I was getting increasingly frustrated with him, which wasn’t fair as he wasn’t being naughty just lazy. We had a nice trot and I am definitely improving on looking behind me to check traffic. I did mistakenly signal left when I planned to turn right but I noticed my mistake quickly and corrected it. Apparently I don’t signal for long enough so I am practising counting to 3 while holding my arm out. The fact I have to practice this kind of worries me anyway! However when it was all over and we had been soaked to the skin in a Scottish ‘shower’ I was told that if that had been the test I would have passed. Really pleased but think they were being generous either that or didn’t see that during the emergency dismount my stirrup also decided to dismount!
A Sunday Hack
Sunday’s weather was horrible here, just heavy rain followed by slightly lighter rain followed by rain so heavy even the ducks took shelter. So full waterproofs it was! We all looked really beautiful and add onto that a hi-viz vest, well that’s a look everyone can enjoy. We were heading out and about as the school was pretty drenched and the rain over the last few days had softened the ground outside – time for longer canters anyone?
I had Au when I went to collect her she was happy because she was eating so got to do all the tack up no problem, but still after how many times I can never get my stirrups correct and have to fix them once on.We were last in the ride which made Au grumpy, she seemed pretty stiff initially in the walk and I had to push her on quite a lot which is unusual for her but I had been warned that she needed to be active from the start.
It was so green and lush in the countryside around the stables that all the horses kept trying to have a cheeky wee munch. I was lucky with Au that she listened to me and didn’t try to eat again after being checked the first couple of times. With MJ it is a losing battle as he is also tall enough to get to the leaves on the trees, Au & I were sometimes showered with leaves as a result.
After a great trot Au loosened off and when the call for the first canter came we were off like a rocket. She is brilliant in canter, easy to steady and steer – we kept a good distance from MJ as he was kicking up mud with his hooves and I think the pair of us decided it would be best if we could see! 🙂 It was a decent length of canter and the ground felt really nice and springy, not like the hard concrete feel of the mud trails previously. When we are outside we all canter in forward seat to keep off their backs and I felt my balance was good in the 1st canter.
In the 2nd canter I was taken a little by surprised. Usually in a larger group we pass the messages from the instructor back, well one of the riders didn’t pass back that we were to canter so all of a sudden they accelerated away from me. I was very lucky with Au that she is so honest she waited for me to ask her to go rather than just zoom off after them. That canter was great again but I didn’t feel I had her as straight, she also nearly grabbed a snack on the hoof! That was interesting! I should point out that this is not my instructor’s fault that I didn’t hear, I should have been paying attention myself.
The only slight issue with Au out and about is that she is pretty nervous. At one point she spooked from her own farting! That was a first. Luckily she is quite easy to get back under control and I kept reassuring her, making sure she knew that I was in control and that everything was fine. Our last canter was up hill and do you know I reckon we could have passed the larger horses if we had wanted to! She was great and seemed to really be enjoying herself, I felt I had her much straighter again and I felt totally balanced on her in forward seat. We were approaching walkers and as always slowed to a trot then a walk a good distance before we reached them but unfortunately the dog they had with them scared her and she tripped making her spook. Again I just spent time talking to her. By this point it was getting really hot and waterproofs are NOT breathable regardless of what they say!! Luckily we were nearly back to the stables. Once there the usual routine ensued taking the tack off, lavender washing the horses, then we were just helping put rugs on and leading the horses to the lorry.
So two horse riding sessions, two different horses and two different experiences – going to be sad to go back to my once a week riding sessions. Oh and I have booked my beach ride with Cumbrian Heavy Horses again – this should be fun!
On the running front I am going to try a walk/run this week and have been keeping my interest in running going by reading a couple of books on running – Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Both good books but really different, only part of the way through Born to Run and I am enjoying it. Interestingly Running Like A Girl has made me more interested in upping my distances, watch this space – the M-word might crop up 🙂