This weekend was packed with horse riding and biking. I had a private lesson at my usual stables on Friday afternoon and then went back to the stables I was at last weekend (Well that was more fun!) on the Saturday afternoon. I lucked out both days with sunshine and blue skies, in fact it was so warm on the Saturday the beach was getting pretty busy and we had to be careful of little kids – don’t worry we were, I ran no children over and given my spacial awareness some credit definitely goes to my pony 🙂
Friday’s lesson was a great way to end the working week. I cycled out and back to the stables, a round trip of around 22 miles which was handy as I am trying to follow a training plan for Tour o’ the Borders and really need to start going for longer runs on the bike. I had Td the wonder horse and we spoke a bit about my nerves before the lesson as I have to admit they were part of the reason I cancelled joining the hack last week. So the stable owner asked me questions about my nerves, how did I feel when they came on? was it a bit like an odd of body experience? what seemed to trigger it the most? I also voiced the fact that I was starting to become nervous about the canter, something I haven’t had any nerves about for years, so she said we could work on that too.
Now I didn’t shower myself in glory during the lesson but it went really pretty well. Essentially it had more similarities to the lessons I had with my previous instructor which I loved, focusing on the details that would help me recognise that I am more in control than I think plus the usual focus on my position. Many of the things we discussed were major themes in my previous lessons and I came away almost with homework, in the sense that I need to focus on being the person in charge in the partnership with the horse and that the horse actually wants that! Certainly the difference in Td when I was telling him what to do and when I lost my focus was interesting to see. I changed my position in trot and he immediately came to me more, his head was in a better position, his stride was freer and we could turn on a sixpence. Our canters weren’t great, I kept missing the corner and transitioning back to trot but it was fun. Td adores cantering so he was in his element. He cantered better on the right rein for me but I think that is because I am left handed and my weight tends to lean to the left more thus helping him stay out. My heels have rather unnervingly started to raise up again in canter and I am still going forwards but I do remember the feel of a good canter so I am hopeful that I can work back towards that. For the next group lesson though I am going to be focusing on what I can do to feel more in control and getting Td listening to me from the off (if I can), I was recommended that (within reason) rather than waiting for instruction I should starting warming up off the track as much as possible doing my choice of school movements. Again I used to do this so it is fascinating to see how much I have almost stopped doing since my old instructor left and I just began focusing on my nerves.
Saturday it was lovely and warm and the drive to the stables was stunning. I had the same pony as last week and she showed a lively side which was nice if a little unexpected. Folks…can I get a drum roll…I cantered on the beach, not once, not twice but four times!! On the last canter it all got a bit fast and I actually think I said ‘ooh this is a bit fast for me.’ – particularly daft as I had kicked my pony on, mixed messages or what? The first two I did by myself with the instructor and on the third and fourth it was the full group of us. We made sure we had space as the beach was a little busy but the horses were loving it. It felt nice to be cantering in forward seat, out of the saddle and just enjoying it. Blue skies, blue sea and golden sand – not a bad place to ride at all. I left my cantering at that and instead trotted and walked around the field, I had one moment of nerves where my pony shot forward but I calmed down and trotted afterwards. I think my pony was just asking if I wanted to canter as they normally canter up that hill, plus I was informed she has a cheeky side even if she is a grandma.
A fun way to round off May. And now it is June and only a week and a half until I head to the Lakes to ride with Cumbrian Heavy Horses. It is exciting and after Saturday I am just concentrating on the excitement. As I was reminded on Friday, I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself – I haven’t “failed” when I can’t do something correctly, I am meant to enjoy it!