Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pony Tales: Night School

Yesterday, I went down the yard after getting back from London at around 6:30pm (I'll post about my internship next week - spoiler, it's the best thing I've ever done). Maxx came with me to groom and tack Ernest up while I went to turn the school lights on (it's a little walk away).
I've not ridden in the dark for a long time; instead of being eerie, it's so peaceful. There's something curiously personal about seeing all the horses in their stables when everyone is gone; sometimes when we walk the dogs, people forget to shut their curtains and you can see clearly inside. Being at the stables at night is like looking through the window - they are completely relaxed, not expecting to see anyone. 

Ernest greeted me by lifting his head, putting his ears forward (this is a good sign, like a human smile) and walking to the stable door. Normally, he likes to be left alone in his 'bedroom', but yesterday evening he welcomed company. I came round the corner from getting changed and Maxx was fussing around Ernest, whose ears were still forward. 

He was very alert walking through the woods to the school, our path lit intermittently. I could hear the generator as we neared the school, but Ernest barely registered it. He wasn't as explosive as the lesson on Sunday, which also happened to be when Maxx had his first canter (oops), but he was certainly energised! 

I practiced transitions - walk to canter was easy. We even got halt to canter. The downwards ones still need work, particularly canter to trot; I need to prepare more and keep my leg on, which will to stop him falling into it and then becoming unbalanced. I wasn't really asking for a contact or roundness, but he did become more rounded in the trot as we warmed up. I watched our shadow moving fluidly round the school, and saw the minute drops of rain blowing towards us in the orange lights. 

When we'd finished, I groomed Ernest in the stable. I could see him, my view encompassing the curve of his back into his neck and head, watching Maxx bringing a wheelbarrow for me to tidy his stable. I love how he is constantly curious and alert, observing the world around him. 

Whenever I see Ernest, my anxiety about the future evaporates. He commands my attention by being such a big character, making me laugh and knowing when I need to just be quiet. The stables at night really are a different world, and I felt like we'd been on a little adventure, even if it was just forty minutes of schooling.


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