I had been told I’d be changing horses this week in the school. I didn’t ask who, I didn’t want to know. But for the first time since entering the school, I was nervous.
I don’t consider myself a nervous rider particularly but I was a little worried yesterday. I can’t say I thought something drastic was going to happen but I didn’t know how I’d handle the pony in question. There would be things so different to Bella.
Was I relieved when I arrived and was told it was Shadow? No! I was not. I’ve ridden him probably the most out on hacks in the past few years but I had no clue how to handle him in the school.
I brushed him which was a good thing as it gave me chance to relax a little before I got on. Once tacked up and I was mounted, I just tried to shut out all my nerves and we headed to the school.
I totally appreciated learning the lay out of our school on Bella. If I’d initially been put on Shadow or someone other than Bella, my learning of the school might not have been so clean and simple as it has been. My instructor is a very wise lady for sure.
She asked me to walk him around the track to see how I handled him. I was told, under no circumstance to use my reins with him at all for steering. It had to be all from the leg and seat. This was going to be interesting.
When you first learn to ride, the motions are so big compared to what they need to be. Subtlety is the name of the game for sure.
Poor Shadow got his foot outside the school for a brief moment at F. Unlike Bella who will do her own thing, even when you ask her properly, Shadow is a very obliging horse. To the point that he would walk into a fence, [OK slight exaggeration], if you asked him to. I instantly learnt, any rein was not a good plan in the school with my lovely Shadow. Hands still, hands quiet, seat quiet until I needed to shift my body to tell him to change direction.
We got around the first time, the second time was slightly better, just slight drifting and still turning with reins by me. On the third lap, I did much better. My instructor laughed several times at the concentration on my face. But as I told her, I wanted to get it all right and not confuse poor Mr Shadow. Bella is a horse that you can do a lot on and she just takes it all in her stride. One slight wrong movement with Shadow and he becomes confused and uncertain of what you want from him.
Leg yields were learnt a lot yesterday during my lesson. I learnt very much that he refuses to listen to a heel and much prefers the calf. I can’t say I blame him. So loose , long legs for Shadow.
We started trotting up and down each side of the school, just to get me used to him in trot in the school. Apparently, my trots looked beautiful on him. It helps he gives what he can and you’re not constantly fighting to keep him going. It was a challenge at first to keep my hands so still on him during trot.
I’m so used to going around corners with Bella that I forgot we were only trotting to K from H and I over steered with those damn reins again and we ended up a stride and a half off the track. So we stuck to trotting straight lines for this lesson.
Then I had to work on leg yields a little in trot. Harder to do initially but grasped it quickly enough.
Downward transitions was new territory in the school yesterday. Bella usually stopped of her own accord so we rarely got time to practice those but Shadow’s much more willing to keep walking and trotting so we got to practice which I definitely needed.
On the first try, I pulled on his reins harder than usual. So then it was time to work on sitting back, letting him know we were about to downward transition and halting him gently.
It was a lot to take in but I’m glad I worked with him yesterday. It seems I have a lot to learn with him as well as Bella. If anything, he’ll get my rein work perfect. And he’ll ensure I’m quiet in my seat until needed. He’ll also encourage me to use my calf so much more when leg yielding but not to use my reins as I kept trying to do. A lot to think about but he was lovely to ride in the school. It was nice to prepare him as I’ve learnt to do on Bela and he go and keep going. My instructor was pleased with my trots and said they looked beautiful. Phew!
I have so much to learn. I hope I can grasp it all.
We chatted after I’d put Mr Shadow away about correctly fitted saddles. I didn’t know what would count as a properly fitted saddle but I learnt a lot yesterday to.
It was a great day! Hopefully have another lesson next week and followed by an hour’s hack. I’m going up on Sunday to though as I suspect I’ll get Bella next week.
Thanks for reading,