A brief horse-y update ahead of a weekend of horses! I turned up to yesterday’s lesson still slightly orange, green and yellow from the Colour Me RAD 5k I had done in the morning, impeccably turned out for lessons as always 🙂
I was given Td, now I think he knows if he sees me then he has to work and so kindly headbutted me in the shoulder as a way of greeting me. We got on and into the lesson we headed. I went in with positivity and I think it showed. As always we were in open order, I put into practice the tips I could remember, walk-halt transitions with lots of praise and a halt if we did a nice active walk, trying to keep Td off the track while avoiding the other horses and trying to stop his wiggly neck from going too squint. The instructor and my riding buddies even seemed surprised with a couple of ‘that’s a good walk’ comments being thrown our way. Our instructor was wanting to move into trot work sooner so that we could do pole work and asked us all to start moving them around in trot. I was getting great transitions from Td and I worked on the walk-trot-walk transitions trying to avoid him chasing others and of course getting in anybody’s way. Again I caught a hint of surprise in the voice of my instructor as she said ‘good trot’ 😉 Next up we were going down over the poles, the instructor asked if anyone thought their trot was good enough for canter and I said ‘yes’. So checking the track was clear I decided to prove it and just cantered Td on. I think everyone was a little surprised by that but I had checked I was clear and was in control.
Then it went slightly less positive. My instructor had already mentioned that she was going to put a jump up and asked us if we wanted to go over, 3 of us chose not to. I have still never seen Td jump and as I have said before I don’t enjoy it and it stresses me out thinking about *having* to do it. So we were going to be given different exercises but it never really happened. Essentially everyone stopped in the middle of the school, myself included and just watched the horses who were jumping jump. While it is interesting the downside to this, especially for me is that Td loses his focus on me and transfers all interest and trust to the other horses. This meant that every time I tried to move away he would desperately try to head back to the group, this in turn made me tense up and get frustrated that he no longer listened. BUT there is a positive to this one. My instructor made the decision that I should ignore the poles entirely and just go round the outside track, trotting him and keeping him from just haring back to the others. We tried to do this while the others were jumping but it didn’t feel like there was a lot of space and I really don’t want to get in anyone’s way so instead we just went around while everyone else was halted. I got in a little bit of a fankle when he started ignoring me and trying to dive back to the group but a couple of reminders later (‘inside leg on, leg yield him out’) I remembered what I was doing and Td responded. We even got a nice canter in but our transition downwards was awful and he ran/trotted to the other horses so I had to circle him away again.
So why was this a more positive experience? Because I know what went wrong and why, plus at the start of the lesson I had a forward-going horse who was listening to me as my instructor pointed out it was only when she started paying attention to me that things went slightly awry. Also I cantered Td without hunching forward and without nerves. Next time I will not huddle with the other horses, I will keep him moving and try and work on some balance issues and on his positioning rather than let him halt and lose all the connection I have with him. I am also planning on practising some dressage moves rather than even look at the jumps. If one day I pop over a jump that’s fine but I’m just not that bothered just now. Instead it is all about fun! Oh and making sure my horse is having fun, after all it is a partnership and Td seems to love it when I ask him to do exercises rather than let him plod around. He even nuzzled me afterwards, he did clock me in the head as I lavender wash-ed him but hey that’s why I wear a helmet around him 🙂
Next up……Cumbrian Heavy Horses – the excitement is building!!