The School Master and the Upstart

Apologies for the delay in writing this post it is almost time for my next riding update! Also I managed to get no pictures whatsoever but it was horrible weather and we ended up finishing in the dark so to be fair the pictures would have been terrible 🙂

So last week, well it was a day of two halves – a lesson and a wee bit of a dressage test interspersed with me picking up horse poo, cleaning tack and grooming –  oh the joys of helping out at the stables. 

Anyway 1st up a lesson. I was originally given Jm (the white speed demon) who I last rode during the last 2 hour hack. I was busily fussing over him and giving Tx who is in the stall beside Jm a pep talk ahead of the dressage training when we were told that one of the lasses who was meant to be in the lesson wasn’t coming so we were just to head out when we were ready. Jm and I were awaiting our turn at the mounting block when my instructor asked if I would mind riding the “spare” horse Br as Jm can be used for kids and she had a fair few kids lessons for the rest of the day.

Off I went to get Br who looked vaguely disappointed to see me. He is one of the school masters and can pretty much tell time so he was aware that he had almost got out of work.

Once in the school I was warned “do not kick him to move him or he will switch off”, essentially he is such a fantastic school horse that he is often used for beginners who tend to constantly kick him to move him on and so he goes onto auto-pilot. Instead I had to keep his attention and worked through a series of changes of reins, different size circles, serpentines and lots of transitions – he perked up immediately and when we came together for some group work he was actually still focused with his ears forward and responding beautifully. We were working on varying the length of strides of the trot using the rise. Once I got my balance correct Br responded brilliantly with long strides when I did the full swing movement in the trot and shorter strides when I did the minimal swing. I even felt him soften in the bit.

Just before we did canter work my instructor noticed that Br had managed to work the bit over his tongue. She was laughing as she redid his bridle “That would have been interesting, you nearly had no brakes”. Hmmm now I have seen Br on the beach and when he is up for it he is fast – one of the funniest lessons I have had with him involved me having to circle him continuously as he wouldn’t stand still while the other horses did a trotting pole exercise then when it was our turn he was so excited we did it in canter!

I got a beautiful transition into the canter but he transition back to trot very much when he decided to but I was ready for that the next time and pushed him through. On the second canter I felt like I was sitting back properly in the saddle and tapping him behind the leg when we approached the corners. I was so pleased that he was tuned on as I had to run him sharply in the canter between  the two other horses and riders. We kept the canter and it seemed like Br was really enjoying himself. At the end of that canter my instructor told me to cross my stirrups  so I assumed another exercise was coming – turned out to be just for me cantering without stirrups. My instructor has been working hard on getting me to perfect my seat in the canter, Br is great to work on this with and the stirrupless canter really helped.

Onto the dressage training with Tx – the upstart mentioned in the title. As this is a training league we don’t need to be all dressed up in shirt and tie, we do still get marked though and lots of feedback to work on. We warmed up in the school as a group then used the field beside the school to keep them warmed up while others did the test. He seemed to be responding well and I kept doing lots of transitions, increasing/decreasing circles using leg yielding and changes of reins using two half ten metre circles (that is part of the test and one of the ones I sometimes have issues with). We were going to go second last so I had three people in front of me. One of the lasses I ride with was there on P and she did really well once she got him moving, he even had the nice swing in the trot and he circles were great. I was focusing on Tx and trying to keep him interested but he kept trying to stop or go into the shed – honestly it was like a magnet for him!

After a few minutes I realised I had never seen B and his rider come up the centre line to start thier test. Unfortunately there had been an incident and his rider had fallen, Td was in the field at the bottom of the school (we were in the field at the top) and he had put his head over the fence to see what was happening spooking B who jumped inwards leaving his rider on the outside track sans horse. B is a big lad to come off and his rider couldn’t continue. My instructor explained, as did B’s rider who walked around in the field to try and loosen up, that B had been looking to the outside and it was therefore easy for him to run away through the inside shoulder. My instructor has been working us hard to get us to understand this and after this I think the remaining two of us were very keen to make sure that we kept our horses looking where they were going.

So it was my turn with Tx. First I took him down to visit Td as Tx has a tendency to try and spook anyway so I wanted to make sure he had a good look. Off we went. SO overall it was ok. I missed a move and also missed a couple of markers – for example I didn’t touch the track at E on a twenty metre circle B and my circles weren’t great shapes. I also lost impulsion with Tx and he didn’t have great inside bend but those are all things I can work on.

On a dressage test each move is marked out of ten then you get collected marks out of twenty which are more about the rider and horse. The collective marks are based upon things such as contact and suppleness – we got good marks on the rhythm section which is nice and lots of helpful feedback. H ave put photos of my marks and the comments below – be aware that the marker on the collective marks sheet has not counted correctly my marks are actually double of what is marked e.g. not 8/20 but 16/20.

Woops! Missed one.
Woops! Missed one.
Double the marks = honestly!
Double the marks = honestly!

So overall I was a bit disappointed with myself, although the marks were ok I really felt I should be better with the inside bend and my accuracy. Lots to work on, roll on next month hopefully I will improve and I won’t get lost in the dark turning Tx out – he wasn’t keen on the local fireworks but somehow his food made it all okay 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The School Master and the Upstart”

    1. Thanks! It was really fun and I am hoping to see an improvement next month although with me and Tx that is not guaranteed!

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