So last weekend was a busy one. Some mountain biking on Saturday down at Glentress near Peebles in the borders. It felt great to be out on the trails after so long, especially as I have been doing a lot more cycling due to my inability to run – I thought I would be blasting up the hills but no. Instead I found I was a bit nervous with my bike meaning I had difficulty in getting my gears correct and riding straight lines, I began to get frustrated with myself as I used to be able to ride these trails no problem but the frustration just meant more errors and tension led to my back starting to complain. I started to pull myself together in the last uphill section, focusing on the positives – being outside, getting to do this again, the AMAZING views – and taking my time, checking my position on the bike and pushing with my legs. It helped. Then came the downhill section, now we were only doing the blue route but it felt brilliant! By this point I had my confidence back and flew down the hills, round the berms and even managed a couple of tiny, wee jumps. By the end I just wanted to do it all again 🙂 But we couldn’t I was off to a ball (I know, get me ;)) in aid of the British Horse Society on Saturday night, having wiped the mud off my face and borrowed a dress (more on that in the November WWC round up) I was ready to go. Well it was a fantastic night, lots of dancing, drinking and some more dancing.
So it was fair to say I was expecting Sunday at the stables to be a quiet leisurely ride but it turned out my instructor, also the organiser of the fabulous party, had barely had any alcohol and was far too chipper for my liking. When we arrived we were told that the horse box has unfortunately currently had a moment and won’t start so as part of our hack (yippee – loving hacking at the moment) we would be riding our horses to their weekend field.
It isn’t often that I get the chance to ride Au out on a hack as she doesn’t do as much hacking as some of the others so I was happy to be paired with her. She is very much the Duchess in the stables, always regal and aloof. In the stable we had the usual “I’m going to bite you” stand-off but once I told her politely that she doesn’t scare me we went to being friends again.
We had a brief bit of riding on the road to get to our hack route so I tried to practise my Riding and Road Safety knowledge. Never fails to amaze me how people don’t seem to notice us on horse back as they accelerate past, Au was not loving this section and I found her difficult to push on but my instructor said it was more to do with the surface and once we were off road I would notice a difference. Boy was she right. Due to the tight schedule we were on (darkness is falling earlier and earlier and they had another lot of horses to move off the yard) we were told that it would be a fast hack. Well we were all walking along when my instructor gave the call”If the ground is okay we canter here, keep left” and off we went. My instructor was on Tr who hasn’t been hacked since the summer and they flew off while Au and I did a very calm and controlled canter – somewhat unlike her but hey. It was great a good blast to get rid of any lingering hangover and I have to say that Au felt immediately freer and out trot was improved greatly. I do wonder if I was holding her back a little in this one too but I’m not sure.
At the next canter I loosened Au’s rein and we were flying! We were heading up one of our canter hills and this time my instructor and I were bowling along together leaving the others a little distance back. It was brilliant, I was fully in control and she felt light in my hands, I was checking her if she was too close and keeping an eye on the sheep in field next to us – Au loves a wee spook. I did my breathing technique in this canter and I think that helped.
After that we did a few trot sections one of which I think Au gave me some canter strides briefly as she thought we might get a wee cheeky canter in until I gave her a strong check. She had a bit of spook at some cows in a shed, honestly they are in there all the time so I have no idea on that front. We were luck as Sunday was a lovely day and being at the top of one of the hills we had stunning views all around.
All of a sudden Au knew where she was going and got a little over excited. It was all I could do as I hoped off to stop her from turning herself out! We quickly rugged them up and turned them out with Au doing that wonderful “I’m so happy it is my weekend” jumping around as soon as she got in the field, I guess it is the same as the Friday feeling I get but still she could have waited until I had left 😉