I arrived at the stables for me Sunday lesson in a brief shower of hail – I should have taken it as a warning sign, that I should have stayed in the dry and just watched. I was originally given P but was swapped to Jm at the last minute. I am still a bit nervous of Jm as I haven’t ridden him much but he is such a character. That said I was feeling pretty positive as we moseyed our way over towards the school.
Then it all kind of fell apart. I couldn’t get him moving forward in the walk or on the correct bend. I was feeling that all my usual tricks weren’t working as he seemed to mainly ignore me! My instructor suggested I try moving him in and around the poles as he adores pole work and jumping. Once I started circling the poles and halting and transitioning between them he was much perkier and he gave me correct bend. Much better! 🙂
After work in the trot, just more bending and circling getting them nice and loose for the pole work to come. Finally as part of the warm up we all did a canter on the left rein (handy for me as it is my better rein). It was a tiny tad faster than we probably should have been going but hey at least he was fired up. On the pole work I think we did pretty well, we did do one brief canter but I got him back into the trot. Our lines and riding away from the poles improved and just as we were congratulating ourselves on our improvement my instructor went off to get the supports for the jump! You read that right, a jump! Just a wee one and we were to trot over it but still. Cue nervous laughter all around.
Well we didn’t shower ourselves in glory, on our first attempt I unbalanced myself and Jm slowed to a walk and walked over it – checking I was okay (so sweet). The 2nd attempt we did a lovely jump in trot, my confidence was boosted. The the 3rd attempt we transitioned back to walk which I was disappointed about as I felt pretty fired up and balanced. But hey he was really looking after me!
So my instructor decided we should have one last go and that I should carry a stick. Now I want to stress here that I am taught while carrying a stick at all times, the stick is never used to punish the horse and I am happy in the way in which I am asked to use the stick. I also want to mention that we had all thrown our sticks away for the jumping as we were told we wouldn’t need them – the pony I was riding is not stick shy. So my instructor reaches out to hand me the stick and Jm goes mad, he spins and tries to kick the stick clean out of my instructors hand – both legs. He was bucking, jumping and spinning. My heart was in my mouth and I was totally freaked out. I had my reins gripped so tightly and every time he paused I thought he was done he would spin and buck again. My instructor was shouting at me to turn his head towards her so he couldn’t kick her but it seemed to take me an age to respond.
Then I was made to take the stick from her, I asked if I had to and she responded that this pony has to take children, he should never kick out at her and he is not stick shy so I had to do this to remind him that he doesn’t get to mess about. I was really nervous as he continued to buck, spin and jump and while I took the stick I was absolutely rigid. I kept him walking in a circle, he felt like he was a firecracker at the end of the reins I could feel his energy rushing up at me as he snorted and every time we turned he seemed to try and bolt. Luckily the jump was being put away at this point, although my instructor did say that he would jump beautifully now for me with all this energy. I had been made to release my vice like grip on the reins and I understand that this meant I could control him better but again with my nerves the idea of releasing more rein to a spinning dervish was the last thing on my mind. I now do see it was the best thing to do. Everyone else in the lesson halted as it was the end anyway while I continued to circle until I felt him relax and soften at the end of the reins. I was pleased to get off.
That lesson was not good, it wasn’t fun and afterwards the adrenaline made me feel sick. But I am remembering my new year’s pledge to be more positive about my riding so:
- A year ago that would have made me fall
- Even though I wanted to get off mid-madness I didn’t
- The 2nd jump was good
- We had a nice canter
Afterwards Jm realised what he had done and kept trying to get the instructor to look at him so he could say sorry (he did graze her when he kicked out). She also texted me later to say he had followed her around the fields afterwards trying to say sorry. That’s pretty cute! For my part I was pretty shaken up, I will be fine though and have decided to do my lesson on Wednesday as normal. How I will feel on the day will be anyone’s guess though!