After my initial bombardment of information in my first lesson in the school, I was excited for the next lesson. I knew my familiarity would probably take a few weeks so I was ready for a lot more off track action with Bella.
It was drizzly but not raining hard when I arrived at the yard. By the time I mounted, it wasn’t raining at all. Despite my initial concerns, I was happy to be back on Bella and yesterday’s lesson gave me more insight to the reason she had been chosen.
I rode up to the school, more confident of the path to it which is a small but relevant bonus. My RI opened the gate and in we went and stood at A. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how much I would remember and how much information I would have taken in.
The first circuit proved that Bella was definitely in charge of me and not the other way around. She went deep into the corner at F and was about four strides off of the track down that side of the school. I wasn’t relaxed and was trying to do all I needed to do. Once back at A, my RI started talking about the reins and keeping Bella’s head straight. We obviously do this in hacking but as all actions need to be more subtle and no oversteering, it was a whole new concept in my head. I wasn’t helping as my hands were tense, and even I know they need to be light, especially with Miss Bella who is very light in the mouth. This is one of the reasons, coupled with the reason i’d thought of last week about her making me think of what she was doing all of the time to keep her on track. She was chosen for several reasons as my RI told me yesterday and to which I agree with all of them.
- She’s light in the mouth which means my rein contact must be light and precise and any feedback from her down the reins will be as subtle which will help refine my feel through the reins of her head and mouth.
- She needs me to be boss in the school meaning that she won’t be a good little girl and stay on the track, she will make me keep her on the track, ride all the corners and physically ride her around the school and keep me on my toes.
- And finally, the reason I had never thought of and why my RI is the instructor and not me, Bella slows down if you’re confusing her as opposed to speeds up. Kenny, the coloured gelding would speed up and Magic the lovely mare would canter instead of listen to you. So Bella was a safer and practical choice.
I am so glad Bella was chosen for me. I cannot believe I’m saying this.
Back to the lesson though.
In order for me to develop a rein contact that feeds back information from Bella, my RI walked around the school, tugging Bella’s head this way and that. She wanted me to feel what was happening and react as quickly but as subtly and gently as I could. Keeping Bella’s head straight was the name of the game and after a circuit of the school, I was getting it. Her head turned, I’d gently half halt the head to pull it centre. My RI had me feel Bella’s neck to see if her head was straight, even her ears had to be central or else her shoulders would fall out. I gradually felt the smallest of changes and was quicker in my responses.
Oversteering wasn’t as much as an issue as it had been in the previous lesson. My turns were gradual and not sharp and I began riding her in to the corners with much more precision.
As last week, I had ridden her every time into the F corner too deep, I only did this on the first circuit of the school my RI said. She commented my hands were more relaxed and said that she can understand how my hands were tense, it was a lot of new information to take in but she’d noticed my hands becoming less and less tense during the lesson.
Last week, H and I had made many acquaintances, I don’t think I caught my leg once but rode close to it twice. A huge improvement I think.
We did four trots down the long sides, we’ve not tackled turning on the corners yet but my RI said she was very pleased with how I was riding the corners now. Toward the end of the lesson, she said I looked really comfortable with the corners and I was riding a lot more positively which was giving Bella less opportunity to do her own thing.
I have to watch out for her head turning, and her speed slowing, that’s when she’s given the chance to ignore me and do her own thing which is when she’s able to get off of the track.
I didn’t stay on the track all the time but it was becoming less and less as the lesson went on.
There was a funny point, when we were walking and she’d turned at H as H seems to be her least favourite letter, very sharply and we’d ended up about four strides off of the track and My RI said there was a jump in front of us so she’d get us back on the track. I laughed and said didn’t think I was quite ready for that one.
At the end of my lesson, we stopped and she’s really good in that she tells me what I did well at, what needs working on and she said to practice feeling the straightness of the horse’s heads out on hacks to get it well practiced as that skill is definitely transferrable.
She also commented how well I’d done today, telling me where I’d improved since last week. And it feels like I really made strides forward. I still have a ways to go but for week two, I’m pleased with what I achieved.
As I said last week, we’re sticking with Bella until I’m more confident in the school and I have a feeling this time with Bella will do me and her some definite good.
I rode her back down to the yard, untacked her and was chatting to my RI about watching Guided Blind Show Jumper video and she joked she was setting jumps up next week. I told her not to get ahead of ourselves. 🙂
We also chatted about if I was her first totally blind rider in the school. She said that yes, I was and although they’d had blind riders, they’d only gone on the hacks and did it leisurely. She commented that I wanted to learn and was very keen and it was a passion of mine and said keenness was half the battle while learning. I told her I thought she was doing a great job, she told me where the markers were when riding, gave me all the visual aids I needed to do what I was doing and asked if she felt it was going OK? She said it was absolutely fine. So I feel great about yesterday’s lesson. It was fun and I made some improvements so lets hope progression keeps coming.
Thanks for reading,