I arrived this afternoon and was presented with a challenge. I was to muck out a stable. I’ve never done this before. I’ve got zero objection to animal pooh. In fact, give me the task to clean up after dog or horse any day over a human baby. I clean up after my guide dog so mucking out in itself doesn’t bother me. However, it presents a few challenges of its own without sight.
My RI went easy on me today and all the bedding and muck would have to come out of the stable. No sifting which indeed would be the hard challenge.
I found the fork and wheeled my wheel barrow to the stable. I started forking, putting the bedding and straw into the barrow. Finding big piles wasn’t hard and even sweeping smaller bits into piles was doable. Methodically I could probably check a stable but I cannot guarantee at this point I’d get it super mucked out. But I tried my best!
I was also told, after this first challenge, I was in for a surprise! Oh no! What would that be? I actually wasn’t so worried. I was too busy mucking out.
I went to the mounting block and who should be lead up but a certain Mr Cheeky Bay, good old Topaz. He’s a beauty, but also my schooling RI’s baby. God help me if I did anything to hurt or confuse this poor horse. I was so unsure where this lesson was going.
Bella and Shadow had been off having fun doing cross country and so had Topaz a little but not as much as the other two good old faithfuls I’m guessing. And that’s why he was subjected to my riding today.
We entered the school and I was told we were having a lunging lesson. I sighed with relief inside. She asked if I knew what that meant and I said, yes, it meant she had the horse clipped onto a lunge line and would effectively control the horse for me.
We were going to work on trot, both sitting and rising.
First of all though, we’d be working on walk in a twenty metre circle. I had to really concentrate on sitting still, absorbing the horse’s rhythm and going with him, keeping my hands still and together and turning my shoulders and head in the direction of travel.
Gradually, I settled and then trot came up.
If you’ve read my hacking adventures with Mr Topaz, you’ll know he has a rather significant bounce to his trot and canter. I was pinging out of that saddle like a firework had gone off under my backside. This was my first lesson in the school and I really had to adjust everything to get myself in balance and rhythm with him. Less effort, more control and shoulders back and heels down. I failed on so many of these points at some moment during today’s lesson.
She had me sit three strides then rise but in a controlled way. We worked on the flicking as opposed to straight up and down and gaining more control over the rise and fall than we’ve ever done before. She wants me to work on this so it’s less to think about during lesson which makes so much sense, not to mention it just looks so much neater.
We then, after changing the direction of the circle, worked on sitting trot with the stirrups crossed over. I honestly, and very misguidedly thought this would be easy. Smarty pants here thought, I’ve ridden bare back on a horse in trot and survived. Yeah? Not so easy. Topaz was a perfect horse to work on sitting trot with. Because of his bounce, you really have to sit to his trot. My backside had to be in the saddle, my shoulders back and as soon as those shoulders snuck forward, I was bouncing around in that saddle.
Eventually, I was sitting to that trot much better and I now know my Pilates must get started again as those stomach muscles will really help with sitting trot.
We talked about the benefits of lunging and I actually really enjoyed this lesson. I have a lot to work on and shall be practicing to the best of my ability the control in rise and sitting trot whilst out on hacks. It’s the only way to build those muscles.
Topaz is a wonderful horse to learn from, just as Shadow and Bella are. I appreciate my instructor so much, she watches her riders and knows what lessons to give them next. I’m excited to work on these skills further and see how future lessons are effected in a positive way, hopefully, of the things I learnt today.
A further thing I learnt to do, right at the beginning of my lesson was how to change your stirrups without taking your foot out of them. Apparently, you’d fail a BHS exam if you took a foot out of a stirrup to adjust the leathers. So I learnt something new today.
I was very pleased with how the lesson went today and I learnt so much and hope to start implementing the things we worked on today.
Thanks for Reading,