Monday, 1 June 2015

Pony Tales: A Very Horsy Weekend

I've not written a Pony Tales for so long! Which is ridiculous, as Ernest is my life (for lack of a less irritating cliche).

Since moving to my wonderful 'new' yard in February - technically not new anymore, and I used to have a Saturday job there - I've been hacking out round some beautiful places. But the other benefit is that one of my closest horsy friends keeps her horse around the corner, and she's been kicking me up the butt to take Ernest out more.

On Saturday we had a cross country (XC) lesson together. I haven't done an XC competition since 2009, and haven't taken him XC schooling for.... maybe 3 years? I can't really remember. To say I was nervous is an understatement, as I knew he'd be excited and would throw in a few bucks. 

It was surprisingly fun! I rode quite well, handled his wilder moments calmly, and felt very positive about the whole experience at the end. The instructor, Julia, was patient and encouraging, and I liked that she always told us to give our horses a pat after each fence. Ernest loved every second, especially cantering through the water! 

pony rolling
Ernest enjoying a roll after his busy weekend of lessons

There was one drop fence which was very scary. I was halfheartedly nudging Ernest to jump down, but he wouldn't move because he knew I was terrified. Julia didn't force us to do it, but I said I'd like to try it at the end. Jaime led us over it after we'd finished jumping some of the other fences and had done a round of the whole course. It felt like free-falling; I can honestly say I felt sick! Julia asked if I wanted to do it again afterwards, but I thought once was quite enough... until the next time, when I might be a bit braver!

pony On Sunday I had a dressage lesson booked with Nadine, as it's Sparsholt Dressage Championships on the 7th. I was looking forward to my lesson as I have a lot of improvements to make, and knew that Nadine would set me on the right track.

The main issue is when I close my fingers on the reins, there's no reaction. I need to encourage him to round over his back - one of the comments I often get from dressage judges is that he needs to be more supple over his back. There's also no reaction when I use my legs, so we worked on getting him more responsive to my hand and leg aids. We created 'gears' in his paces - walk, trot and canter - and tackled his strops when I ask him for more in his canter (he bucks). This weekend was pretty good for me getting to grips with him when he throws shapes, instead of backing off.

Overall, I think Ernest and I had a fabulous weekend. My head is buzzing with all the information from Julia and Nadine, so I can't wait to get on and practice tomorrow. Jaime and I are also hoping to go out again in a couple of weeks' time to the same XC course. Roll on the weekend!

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