A Winter catch up...
Thursday 2nd January:
Happy New Year to everyone out there! I cannot believe how quickly time flies and hence how long it has been since my last blog.
Rosie has improved so much and I like to think that I am almost back to where I used to be before I gave up riding but there will always be room for improvement. Riding can be so complex at the best of times but even more so if you have the passion!! I question everything I do i.e. am I sitting level, supple enough, is my timing ok, what do I need to do to improve contact with the bit, balance etc., the list goes on and on. The problem with Rosie is that she has a quick brain so if I am not all there with my lemon drops, she knows and responds accordingly. Her default is and always has been to brace on the bit and disconnect herself mentally but she is a mare and her hormones do get in the way but nowhere near as much as they used to. I now have more good rides with her than bad and by that I donít mean how it optically looks, she can look round in the neck and very pretty but not be over the back. When she uses her back, she is a soft as butter to ride; you can literally do anything with her. When she is hormonal or tenses, her back tightens and then she braces in the neck, and locks her jaw. Instead of (as I used to) think oh God I canít ride I try to work her through it. In the early days she would race around like a giraffe and make her own decisions as to where she was going; now she goes where I tell her and stops when I tell her and turns when I tell her. When she braces I try to flex her, get her attention so that on the bad days if the work is 30% of what it can be I have to be content with that and know that tomorrow is another day but I never change what I am doing, but I might vary the exercise to suit the problem.
For example on the left rein she does not step into the right rein contact so I flex her to the right, bring the quarters around and when she steps into the right rein I then ask for left flexion. On this occasion it did not work so I put her into shoulder fore on the left rein and bingo that got me the left flexion. I may need to alternate between the two depending upon how she feels on the day. On the right rein I also need to bring the shoulders around if she is going out through the shoulder. When she is over the back I donít need to do anything very much other than keep a soft conversation down the rein to the bit. Trot shoulder in on both reins then flow, half halts come through, everything just slots into place. Her back swings softly and I can hardly hear her feet on the floor. I am also now doing a lot of sitting trot which has helped to anchor her a bit plus I can use my back in the half halts. Some months ago I could only have dreamt about sitting to the trot and now here I am not even thinking about it!
We have been doing a lot of cantering on the lunge so I feel she is now ready to canter under saddle but she does not know the aid. The other day I tried to ask and I could feel a big question mark arise in her brain lol! I think the next course of action will be to get Simon to stand in the middle as if she were on the lunge and say Rosie canter on whilst at the same time I will give the aid to canter. All in all I am thrilled with her progress and once the canter is in place she has all the basics and a little more. Next will be working on consistency, better transitions and variation within the pace but never expecting everything after all I am not a Carl Hester lol!
I think throughout these past couple of months I have learned that no horse can feel brilliant every day and not due to anything I have done wrong but that I still need to stick with it, keep pressing my point home but with patients and intelligence. If necessary walk on a long rein, breathe and get back on an even keel. I have in previous blogs always said and still say that our brains get in the way. Intelligence and calmness gets replaced by tension and frustration, the body tightens, the horse knows and the whole thing becomes a mess or we become like zombie riders in a black tunnel going round and round in circles getting nowhere and the horse just gets exhausted. It is difficult to remain mentally on an even keel all the time and above all not take what the horse does as a personal insult. They are in the main such forgiving creatures and donít hold grudges but they do need on both good and bad days the riders full attention, intelligence etc., and not their ego! One good thing about being on a big yard is that everyone is on a journey and they all feel exactly the same. Having a good laugh about those bad days helps a lot! I almost feel like starting a club a bit like alcoholics anonymous where riders can come and say my name is so and so and I feel useless today, my horse hates me, why is he/she doing this to me so that instead of reaching for the bottle or in equestrian terms the gadget we talk it through and have a good hearty laugh!
I have also been lucky enough to ride a little Spanish horse who knows quite a few moves. He was so easy to ride and it gave me the opportunity to canter in preparation for Rosie. I learned a great deal from him and rode Spanish walk something I have never done in my life. This little horse has perfect manners, is an absolute sweetie so I owe him a very big thank you and his owners for letting me ride him!
So the journey continues and no doubt the days of self doubt and frustration but one of my New Yearís resolutions are to keep on improving. I love Rosie more and more each day; our bond is there now what more could I ask for than that! Happy New Year my dear little Rosie and thank you for coming into my life you are a treasure and a sweet kind soul who has given me back my riding something I never thought I would do again. X
Until next time, Gill and RosieB...