The journey continues.....
Wednesday 12th June :
We have had a lovely week-end at Bury Farm, Rosieís young field companion Malice did her first dressage test and her owner Anne did a grand job of guiding her through the test whilst she was shrieking at all the other horses who were all shrieking back lol! Anne kept her cool, stroking her at every opportunity which I thought was wonderful. After she had finished we all congratulated her. It was an emotional day for Anne as she bought Malice when she was a foal and has gone through quite a journey with her particularly last year when an injury in the field had her on box rest for many many months. To go from that to doing her first test was enough to make anyone cry. When Anne let it out she set us all off!!! I was so pleased for them both although Malice did not seem aware of how happy she had made her mum lol!
I have been for my second hack with Rosie since my last blog and she was a little spooky because they had cut the tracks but left the grass in piles which she thought were the most frightening things she had ever seen. I said to her now come on Rosie you are not afraid of machinery, crashing poles, racing ponies and goodness knows what else but a pile of grass lol! Luckily she was with her field buddy and matriarch Monet, so I tucked her close and she went past all of those little mountains, huffing and puffing but to my delight she did allow me to position her and keep her soft and round so what more could I have asked of her. I did say thank you afterwards to Aunty Monet for keeping us safe!
Rosie is getting so much stronger in her body and her trot has become a little more elevated with power I never thought was there!! It is so difficult to describe as it is a soft power, you feel like you are sat on a turbo charged mattress, the contact is soft and elastic, a little check on the rein goes through her whole body, it is so enjoyable that it makes me smile over and over again but I have to be alert because that power and suppleness when applied to a spook can be quite awesome!!! I discovered a tool I once had all those years ago that I had forgotten and it is so simple I could have kicked myself that I had not thought of it before. In the rising trot when I take a soft check to slow her down I simultaneously raise my ribcage and bingo she slows down but is still covering the ground, in other words a small half halt. Then it is a little flex to the outside on the left rein but a really gentle flex, then a flex to the inside whilst applying my inside leg but always with hands slightly forwards and offering but not giving the contact away. On the right rein the turn is extremely important and when I get it all in the right sequence it feels sublime as long as she lets me keep her engine from powering off into the distance! The old issues hollowing now and again, spooking and rushing are still there but (fingers crossed here) they are getting less, she seems to be listening to me and understanding what is required (bet I eat my words tomorrow lol) Her seasons make her tense and when she is tense that is when she becomes more jumpy, spooky and lacking in concentration yes Rosie la la land, where she imitates a giraffe, but I am nevertheless thrilled beyond my wildest dreams with her progress, I seriously never thought she would give me a feel like that, in fact I would go as far as to say that it is the best feel I have ever experienced on any horse and of course I want it all the time, I am now a registered feelaholic lol!
I have also started lateral work at the walk, simple leg yield and shoulder fore which hopefully is helping her suppleness and (very important) keeps her mind from going away with the fairies and mine lol! She moves sideways very easily which I have to be careful of because it could go against me. I always try to keep my lower legs loose on her sides so that I can give the inside or outside leg aid like a wet towel. To keep them on all the time would send her crazy or halfway up the M1, plus it means the aid is clearer well I think it is! As for my riding, I feel I am getting stronger in my body and the control of my body, about time too lol! But donít get me wrong it is still nowhere near perfect, probably never will be but I will keep chipping away at it. I broke a couple of vertebrae in my back many years ago (fall from a bolting horse on a road) that has given me a lot of trouble over the years to the point where I truly thought I would never ride again. Due to this my lower back gets very painful as it is now arthritic, so I have to make sure I breathe, in order to relax it. I have to think about my riding and position, aids etc., it all the time! I go through a little check list in my head whilst riding!! Am I sitting level, are my shoulders relaxed, elbows relaxed, turn to the right, guide her with your outside rein, then flex a little to the inside, oops lost the shoulders do it again, oops quarters came in start again and so it goes on. I still do the flexions as well which I truly believe has helped her so much and they do relax her. Plus it is a tool I can keep going back to if she is having an off day. When I do it I initially make sure my elbows are bent softly and just brushing above my hip bones. To the right I keep the left rein by her neck and flex my right wrist a little to ask her to soften, immediately when I get a response I give both reins forward, then pick up again ask to the right again and then to the left then both reins forward, if she takes the reins down I know I am on the right path and of course there is that flip!!!
It is a slow journey that Rosie and I have embarked upon, her so young and knowing nothing and me coming back into it with all my aches, pains and weaknesses. We might be progressing slowly but we are seeing our little horse that once had no mouth, a short running flat trot becoming softer and looser and more trusting every day. Is it perfect no! Is there still a long way to go yes of course! Will there be problems along the way, most definitely but I have learned that getting things in perspective is so important and I look at the lows in a very different way. I have also learned that my ambitions mean absolutely nothing to Rosie or how much time I have left on this planet but what she does not realise is that she is fulfilling them more and more by me being patient and taking everything one step at a time and always thinking I wonder what tomorrow will bring, I will do my best and let see where that takes us. If she is on a really spooky la la land day I will lunge her a little, if she does not listen I will keep asking the question gently and probingly and if I do something wrong which I always do she will forgive me as long as it is within reason and I do not abuse her trust. After my ride today, I walked her down to the field, with my arm over her neck, chatting away to her which, she does seem to enjoy but probably not quite as much as the grass. Judging by her belly when she comes in she must have never taken a breath in between stuffing her face! She stood with me at the gate until I said go on go and play for it will be work again tomorrow but thank you Rosie for today you were truly wonderful X
Until next time, Gill and RosieB...