Well wednesday’s was a “slow” lesson. I got to the stables and it was a lovely, clear night – cold but not like the week before with the wind. I had guessed I might be given Billy as I had been due to ride him the week before but for the weather.
He is the part clydesdale and in theory that should make me love him but he usually makes me feel out of control and he is the only horse there that I remain nervous of. In fact you might remember that back in August I actually got off him on a hack. I tried to help my nerves by talking to him which definitely helps but it is actually only once on that Billy scares me – in his stable he is one of the cuddliest horses.
It didn’t start well, he kept wandering off while I was trying to fix my stirrups. Then on our way to the school I was told that two horses were in the field next door, this was something that had caused Billy to spook previously and his rider had fallen.
So to take my mind off spooking, let alone Billy’s, my instructor got me going immediately. We were again focusing on my position and how to ride using my body. Billy seems to respond really well to it which I find helpful as I quickly realise I am doing something wrong. My instructor also had me working on carrying my hands high to get Billy to feel the contact and to get him to relax into it. It also stopped me from relying on my reins too much. We did the usual trotting circles decreasing and increasing with me using my body to control the size and shape plus another few leg yield exercises.
I found myself panicking a bit at the speed, it sometimes felt like he was going to take off with me, so my instructor focused on getting me to understanding how to slow him. I was doing my default move when nervous and tipping forward, I was told instead to push myself back and to check Billy by putting in turns and circles, to use my body and voice to work on the control. This worked really well for us. It also helped me with my nerves, I was focusing on how I could feel in control rather than on the fact I felt out of control – does that make sense?
My instructor was also teaching me to feel when Billy gets on the bit, when he softens and drops his head but keeps his poll high. He did this then would come out of it but my instructor was explaining that he finds it difficult but it is correct for him. It made me realise he is really trying for me and there is no malice in him, it made me feel more sympathy towards him in turn reducing my nerves.
I kept expecting the call to canter -I have cantered him before – but it never came. My instructor has decided to get me used to him before I canter him and do fast work. This is why I really enjoy my riding I trust my instructor, she knows me and knows I would have done badly and just been frustrated. So no cantering but a good lesson, think Billy and I might get along though we are still sussing each other out.