Well I can’t believe it is Monday already, that weekend just flew by with an uncharacteristically quiet Saturday, in the exercise sense of quiet. Then a day yesterday that saw me soaked to the skin not once, not twice but three bloody times! It is lucky I’m not a fair-weather rider although by the end of yesterday I was begining to wonder if I should be 🙂
I have been good and doing my physio stretches each day but I need to create this ‘peanut’ thingy that my physio wants me to use – it was brilliant when she let me use it as it is like a foam roller for your shoulder and back muscles as it nestles right in there. I need to buy 2 tennis balls and some sports tape and get all Blue Peter to create one, I will post a picture when I do this as given my history with these kinds of projects it may injure me more.
I haven’t told my riding instructor about my trip to the physio as I am hoping that the exercises help with my positioning as I have certainly been feeling my hips tightening up during lessons. Fingers crossed some kind of miracle happens and all of a sudden I start to improve!
So yesterday, well folks I passed the MOCK Riding & Road Safety (the capitalisation is mainly for my benefit as I keep acting like I actually passed the exam). The weather also decided yesterday that is was going to make the conditions so atrocious that we were all tested by our horses. But before we even got on we had the first hurdle – the written exam in the world’s smallest porta-cabin. To be fair it does the job but unfortunately I arrived late meaning I had to do the multiple choice answer paper sideways with my legs dangling over the arm of the plastic chair as I couldn’t fit my legs underneath the table I was at. Pretty amusing to everyone else, I pretty much had to jump back out of the chair. Luckily we all passed and were sent off to check our horses tack and ensure we had all the fluroscents and hi-viz we needed. Now I was thinking that in the coming weeks I might do a couple of posts about my riding history as it is the 3rd anniversary of my riding at the stables I am at now and I thought it might be nice to do a look back. Something I have realised looking back is that things are done differently in different stables and hi-viz and fluroscent clothing when riding on the roads is actually something I have only come across at my current stables but when you see the difference this clothing makes it is quite amazing. Just look at this picture on the BHS website. Startling isn’t it?
Anyway for the riding and road safety exam your horse must have 4 leg bands on and you must have a hi-viz item of clothing on, we use tabards at my riding school but a lot of people have got their own gilets or jackets and I am thinking of investing in one. So off I went to find MJ all tarted up in his stable and to wait to hear if I could bring him out for the simulated road route. The wind was getting up meaning we had to pull the doors shut on the stables and the rain was hammering down creating pools of water in the yard, frankly MJ and I were beginning to hope they would forget about us so we didn’t have to go out in it!
Slowly I started to see other horses being led past the doors indicating that we were getting on, there are 13 of us sitting the exam with a few people sharing horses so the people sharing were getting to do the route first then the others would be called. I wasn’t sharing MJ so I knew we would called later on. I chatted away to MJ and the other girls sitting the mock exam who were with their horses in stalls round about me. I also paid some attention to the horses who weren’t being used in the exam as they seemed a little put out to not have anyone fussing over them.
Then the inevitable call to leave the warm stables and head out into the truly autumnal scene outside the doors. As we followed B and his rider outside MJ, who is part shire, tried to hide behind me to shelter from the rain. It was clear that this wasn’t going to be easy.
Actually even as I got on I realised that I was lucky. MJ while a bit put out at being outside only wanted to halt and put his butt towards the wind and rain. Some of the others were backing up and being real wee troublesome so-and-sos. Everyone handled their horses brilliantly though, it was a young lass who was on B – the part clydesdale – and she bossed him around and he responded brilliantly. I am a little in awe of some of these youngsters who just got on with it. After my realisation that the most I was having to deal with was a stubborn MJ I got on at him to get him walking smartly as we warmed up, one of the important things for the riding and road safety exam is to get your horse walking smartly, people have been failed for their horse walking too slowly. I got called forward to take my turn at the simulated route and do you know what….it went fine. I kept reminding myself to make it very obvious when I checked for traffic as I was warned it doesn’t look like I am checking as I don’t twist very well. We had one moment where I had to halt MJ at a flared junction to turn left, his hind quarters were all over the place but I felt in control and continued to check behind me left and right before turning. I worried that this might make me fail but I did feel that I was still in control.
Before I knew it the simulated route part was over, and MJ and I were squelching our way back to the stable where I used a sweat scraper and a towel to squeedgy the worst of the water off him while we waited to hear if we had passed. We did! Next up the road part of the exam. Well after a moment where MJ wasn’t sure if he wanted to leave the stables I reckon we did really well on that part, but I was pretty nervous during all of it. In the end we passed! A couple of things to work on was to show a longer trot on the road to demonstrate how in control you are in trot then and to watch his hind quarters to stop them from swinging into the road. So I can’t be complacent but it feels good to have passed the mock exam, it has calmed my nerves and I am looking forward to next week now! I will try to post some pictures from next week’s exam, yesterday was so bad I think my camera would have been blown out of my hand!
A quick update on riding more generally, last week we had a few cracking canters in the stubble fields but yesterday was a lesson in the school due to the weather. I had Am, great canters with her – the transitions, she was really listening but I needed to push her on in the trot more. I had to back up the ask with the whip yesterday but I got a much better trot that felt like we were really motoring. We also managed a brilliant canter transition where I got her walking, trotting then into the canter in a few strides since she was so sparky. If only she was as great in the stable as she is to ride, she is just grumpy and very sensitive on her hips, I always feel like a horrible person if I don’t get her rug on perfectly the first time. She did seem happy when I turned her out with her friend though and allowed me to scratch her neck as a thank you.
And as the title says next week…bring it on!!
Miles run: 0 (don’t know why I am writing these any more)
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