It was a gorgeous day on Thursday. I’d probably say one of the nicest so far this spring. I had a lesson and a hack scheduled. I hoped Shadow and I would venture into the school with me again and so he did.
I was sent to brush him and tacked him up ready for my lesson. We got into the school and I was hopeful that last week’s initial teething problems wouldn’t be as obvious. I just hoped to have put into place all that I had learnt from the week before and learn more.
We did a lot of leg yielding work. This, like when I was first learning to turn the horse will baffle me for a while and then it’ll click. Moving legs, hands and trying not to confuse the horse is a challenge but one I don’t think my lack of sight impairs too deeply.
My instructor showed me how to hold my hands and gave me a feel of what him stepping over felt like. The crossing of a horse’s legs is a bizarre but cool feeling beneath you.
For those of you who are not horsey, let me explain. We use leg yields to make the horse move sideways. It’s achieved by the horse crossing its legs and stepping to the side. The rider has to be very clear with their aids to ensure it’s a clean manoeuvre.
I need stronger calves. That is something I learnt and one strong press with a calf is effective to a few small ones. Something else, you need the horse to slow down so he’s balanced in what he is doing and you have to bend his head ever so slightly the way you want to go and put your opposite hand forward a little to prevent tension. At least, that’s how I think it was. My mind is still a blur.
As it happened, I got one really good leg yield and I didn’t confuse Shadow at all once on Thursday.
My instructor had me walk around the school about four times to get me relaxed and as soon as I started talking, we ended up off the track. That’s when we started with leg yields.
After the crazy acrobatics of yielding was done and my brain was fried, she asked me to trot him around the school and shove him over if he went off the track. I was a little unsure how I’d handle him around the corners but it was beautiful! Slight turns with my shoulders, and the occasional squeeze with my leg to keep him on the track. I also did a lovely downward transition which we had worked on a little last week.
Overall, I was pleased with the lesson. I know yielding isn’t going to come overnight and I am confident I’ll get it. Shadow is turning out to be a wonderful teacher and the fact I trotted three times around the school with him and kept my control and track, I was quite pleased. It wasn’t perfect of course, but this was only my second lesson with him.
I can’t expect to grasp things like sighted riders can. I rely on feedback of where I am a lot of the time and I know more time will lead to more experience and knowledge and make me better.
The nice thing on Shadow is I don’t have to constantly fight with him to keep him going. He’s a very giving horse. So I can concentrate on the semantics of so much more with him.
I dismounted and took off his tack but he was going out on a hack straight after lunch so I had to put his saddle back on.
Once we’d finished lunch, my Riding school owner asked me to go put Shadow’s bridle on for her. I was kind of beaming. No one helped me. I had to go and corner him at the back of his stable and put his bridle on and lead him out to the girl who was riding him. I’d put up his girth, pulled down his stirrups when she adjusted them and asked if they looked even. I told her I couldn’t help her on that score, I couldn’t see. I couldn’t believe she didn’t realise that.
Then I had to brush the mare my hacking RI was riding out with me on and tack her up. She has a different bridle to most of the horses so I was struggling. My hacking RI said, it didn’t matter, we’d practice another time. But the fact my RSO is so laid back about it now, allowing me to put tack on a horse I’ve never tacked up before, let alone tacked up by myself was encouraging.
I was a little disappointed I was not riding Shadow and had miss Diva. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a babe and I love her but it was a gorgeous, sunny day and I kind of wanted a blast. Maybe next time.
The hack was OK. She did a few strides of canter but nothing to write home about. When she was flying in trot, I tried to bring her down to a steady trot and try again for a canter but she wasn’t interested. Slightly disappointing. So the first half of thursday was fab, the hour hack was OK.
Thanks for reading,