We’d planned a long hack a few weeks ago for this morning but none of us would have expected the gorgeous weather we got. It was perfect riding conditions. Sunny with a few clouds and a slight breeze.
Due to the farmer not allowing us on any fields at the minute, the plan of change of route had to be put into effect. We were going to ride the long hack I’d done several times before on Bella. I like that route a lot but it means going on the fields on the farm which we are not currently allowed to do so a change of route had to take place. I was nervous, I admit that I might not be allowed to go on the hack because I know the other hacking routes they take are along busy roads before you get to the countryside part of the hacks.
But I was still allowed to go. We were going to ride across Crompton Moor and near to the quarry in my local area. I was super excited and had even decided that Bella and I were going to have a blast!
I got to the yard and was asked to brush Shadow. I realised he might be coming with us but didn’t know who would be riding him. After he was brushed, I brushed Toby and then tacked up Shadow. It seemed all usual business to me. I cannot brush and tack up Bella as she can be quite marish with people so Mr Shadow and Toby were good options.
As I was brushing Toby, I heard my hacking RI say to Bella in the next stable that she’d be riding her. I asked, with trepidation who I would be riding and she said Shadow. I couldn’t believe it!
We mounted and left the yard, our riding school owner out in front on the gorgeous Topaz, another girl who helps out on Fleur, my hacking RI on Bella, then me on Shadow and a younger girl on a little pony called Zac.
We weaved through the estate we use locally and headed onto a busy road. A few trots and especially when crossing busy roads took place and then we started heading up a big hill road. I felt my stirrup wasn’t quite right but wasn’t sure if it was me and it didn’t seem so bad to start with. Two hours of riding would fix that for me.
We had to walk fairly quickly which was really nice as we usually go much slower on shorter hacks with kids and ponies. But besides the younger girl who was in her teens at least, we were all eighteen or above.
We started up another hill and the traffic noises quietened and I could hear the birds chirping away. Only the sounds of voices from the riders and our horses hooves could be heard.
I could hear the echoes of the openness of the quarry as we rode up and up.
I encountered some new things today that seriously ensured I’d use my steering. I’m guessing they have these in a lot of places in the UK but I’d never come across them until today. They’re called Tiger Traps and are like little stair cases to prevent quad bikes wrecking the moor lands. At least that’s what I’m told. I searched on google and cannot find a thing. Maybe they have another name.
After going up about three of these, we got to do our first canter.
It was uphill so forward seat. I had no problem with that besides a slightly shorter stirrup. Who knew stirrups could be so bothersome? My other bad habit that my RI has spotted in our lessons during jumping is I don’t keep my head up. She reminded me of that today.
The first canter was awesome and Shadow flew lovely up the hill. We had so many lovely canters on this ride, I was just a bit nervy of that damn stirrup. I never felt unsafe on the first three canters, but when we turned around to do another, after a vote to go back and do another canter, I confess I was a chicken and snuck a hand down to my saddle. I know I was over thinking the balance issue a bit by then and my thoughts were just, stay on. About three quarters of the way through the canter I picked up my reins in both hands again and stopped being an idiot.
Back down the hill we went, sun shining and the horses relaxed and happy. My hacking RI thought I was being really quiet but I was just soaking it all in. I couldn’t believe I was out on a new route on a horse I wasn’t sure I’d ever be trusted to ride out on a longer hack due to excitement on his part. But I handled him well! He always listened to me, he worked well off my aids and slowed and stopped when he was told to.
In the second canter he tried to fast trot but I collected him back up and we cantered lovely.
Once we were down the hill, there was a little bit we could canter but this was a failing on my part, we went too far over to the right and ran out of space so didn’t get the last little one but it was OK for me, my right ankle was starting to complain by this point.
We walked back down through the step like structures and crossed a little bridge over a stream. Then back down the long road hill through some trees and back to the roads and traffic.
I was so proud of Shadow today and I felt super happy we’d finally done a long ride together and I didn’t screw it up completely. I’m sure Bella enjoyed having an accomplished rider on her back to so she could have fun today!
My seat work and leg yielding worked a treat today. I really felt good contact and just need to work on my leaning forward and backward positions with my head. I guess not being able to see doesn’t help me there, I have nothing to focus on or look for. Head up is what I need to remember. I’m sure my lesson instructor shall beat that one into me during jumping lessons in the future.
It was a perfect morning in the sunshine riding out on some fabulous equine friends and such a double new adventure for me.
Thanks for reading,