Bella Will Make a Rider Out of Me Yet

I arrived today and was asked if I minded brushing some ponies before my lesson. As I had planned to help today if I could, I wasn’t bothered in the slightest.

The cutest thing did happen before all of this though. I was chatting to a girl at the yard and she was in the next stable to Shadow’s and he nickered at me. He did this head over the door, as if to say, come here and talk to me. So damn cute! 🙂

I brushed gorgeous Shadow first. He had been jumping the previous night so was pretty clean and his tail and mane were all soft and silky.

Then I brushed two of the smaller ponies and halfway through brushing the second, was asked if I was ready? I was.

Bella was all tacked up for me and I mounted and headed up to the school. My RI had said we would be working on a different rein this week. We’ve been so far working on the left rein but today was to see me changing rein and moving around the school on the right rein.

I’ll briefly explain this as it was explained to me by a good friend.

So when you go around the school, the side nearest the fence is the outside and the other side is the near or inside. When we talk about which rein you are on, it is referring to the hand that’s on the inside of the school. So, I’ve been starting at A, going to F and around in a counter clockwise circuit so we’ve been on the left rein. But my RI wanted to have me start going on the right rein this week so starting at A then to K, and so on around the school.

I walked on the left rein first and handled the school very well in walk. My RI was impressed and Bella didn’t even stop at F. When we got around to A again, my RI said we would change reins so she had me turn toward her and end up at E so I went sort of diagonally across the school so I could then move from E to H and go around that way. For my non horse riding friends, this may not make a lot of sense, I promise to do a school lay out page on the site.

Because of the rein, there is a ditch still at the C end of the school so lots of polls are there. First walk on the right rein and I ended up in the middle of a few poles. Whoops. Not sure we’re quite ready for poll work Bella.

Anyway, after that first walk off of the track into unknown territory, we went around the school quite nicely. Was amazed how quickly I adjusted to the right rein, as my RI was. She said I looked as comfortable as I did now on the left rein and had got my bearings very quickly. Think this surprised her a little, I know it surprised me but going around the school the other way was as simple as pie.

Then for trotting. No one warned me I’d be sort of relearning to trot. I joked that Bella will make a great rider out of me yet. She’s the type of horse that shuts down if you’re not asking properly. So rising too much and not quickly enough in trot makes her just stop and walk. She gives up on her riders which makes you need to perfect your own technique. I keep learning why Bella is a good horse for me to adjust to school life on.

My RI said my aids were too busy for Bella and too much squeezing hard would just have the opposite effect on her. Her words were, “you cannot bully this horse” and I am beginning to see what she means. Bella needs perfection from her riders. I swear i’m in training for the paras already. [jokes].

So I was working on preparing when coming around the corners, giving her a light squeeze then another light squeeze and seat to trot on. I then discovered that all this time, rising too much out of the seat is actually not cool or clever but a novice’s mistake. I’m sure I knew this but learnt how rising fractionally and keeping the weight fixed in my lower leg, whilst moving it further back and being very light on her back helps me and Bella do a nicer, controlled, neater trot. I didn’t even realise how much my legs were slipping forward but clearly they were and I was ending up throwing myself forward. With Bella, you dictate the pace and the higher you rise, the slower you will be so Bella doesn’t do slow, she does stop. This makes so much sense now. I could never keep her going like Shadow, Topaz or Magic. How often have I been flying out of the saddle, thinking, hey, I have a fabulous rhythm only to learn I’ve been doing it all wrong. lol.

My RI says it’s something all riders do. We concentrate so much on getting out of the saddle in rhythm that now we need to concentrate on correcting and perfecting it. It’s nicer once you have that kind of flicking motion. It feels nicer from what I got today. She is hard work but I know where I need to work on. Neater, slighter asks and she does respond better than a heel in her side. As my RI said, Bella wants you to ride, whereas Shadow and Magic will do whatever you ask because they want to please but Bella ensures you do it right for her.

I confessed today to my RI I am beginning to understand Bella so much more since coming into the school and I’m developing a respect for her I never had before and an affection too. Bella has sadly been misunderstood by me. And now it’s time I rectified that. Yes, she can also be stubborn but she’s going to make a rider out of me yet.

My RI was impressed how I progressed again today and when we changed the rein back to the left, she said I’d done well. My trots are looking better and she commented how good having the hacks in between are for me to work on things we’ve done in the school. The trotting for example is something I will work on. And I know from a few months ago, my hacking RI said my legs were too busy for Shadow when asking for canter which I’ve worked on so those two things are things I will work on this weekend during my hacks.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be doing all of this. A month ago I didn’t know how I’d learn the lay out of the school and here I am, a few weeks in, and managing to get Bella and myself around in walk. Now for a full trot of the school with lighter aids with less tension, and quicker but not as high rising and such in my trotting. So happy with the progress and the sun shone too so major bonus. And at least she wasn’t fixated on stopping on a letter today. But RI did have to set us off in trot a few times but working on those leg aids. lol.

Thanks for reading,


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. This is one of my favourite posts of yours ever Marie: it’s joyous to see such a huge, important penny drop with the aid of a great RI! A great lesson on how important riding different horses is too, and how schooling and hacking can go successfully hand-in-hand (lots of people are snobbish and think hacking’s for folk that can’t really ride or don’t want to ride properly).

    Rise height and duration out of the saddle are so important, and are an excellent way of controlling a trot too. It’s great to have feedback from someone on the ground watching you at all times and giving you their undivided attention. I know you’ll really take all this to heart and tackle it too! 🙂

    1. Yes Debz. getting loads of great feedback from her and I feel at ease with her. I make a mistake, we move on. And think she sees how dedicated I am to this. Really going to work on neater leg aids and flicky rises not hoisting my bum high out of the saddle. Amazing when the light bulb goes on huh? 🙂 Can’t wait to apply all I’ve learnt in the school on my hacks this weekend. 🙂

  2. How long before you have a go at canter then?! Are you willing to make a bet? It’s going to be sooner than you think. Already you’re talking about being in the school as if it’s completely normal. I’m really happy for you,. Think back a couple of months when non of us believed you’d ever get this chance and look where you are now.

    As for Bella – there’s an absolute gem of a horse in there somewhere. Kindness is often misunderstood. She’s looking out for you. She’s just doing it in her own, fairly dominant(!), way 🙂

  3. I love that you’re developing such a great relationship with Bella! It’s all really exciting 🙂

  4. Loved reading this. It sounds like you and Bella are developing a great relationship.

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