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Life of Riley image

Not one to throw bouquets

Sharon Howe and Riley image
It’s been a wonderful week. Isn’t it amazing how a horse can lift your heart?
This week has been full of happy moments, progress, and highlights. At the end of my lesson on Tuesday, Emma commented that I had ridden well. She isn’t one to throw bouquets, so imagine how happy I felt when she remarked after my lesson on the following day that I had ridden even better. There is still a very long way to go but I have recently sensed some moments of improvement and to have this confirmed certainly made me pleased.

He jumped over it

lady rider tacking up a pony
Getting ready for some fun
For the last lesson of the week, I was to have a joint pole lesson with my friend Sophie and her horse Onyx.  The lesson was great fun, and at times I thought this is how it must feel at pony club as we both circled down opposite ends of the school, riding over poles.  Three poles were placed in the centre of the school, and one was positioned at either end of the school.  Riley and I managed to trot over them with success, however during one exercise we were supposed to canter over the single pole which proved tricky as I couldn’t manage to steer Riley quickly enough to line him up correctly.  We did achieve it once, and Riley seemed to be enjoying himself and was paying full attention as it felt as though he jumped over it.

Riley on the other hand, was typically nonplussed

nice image of horse and rider hacking through a field
Riley and I enjoying a relaxing hack together
At the end of the lesson, Sophie and I hacked round the farm estate and took Riley and Onyx for a dip in the pond.  Onyx absolutely loved the pond kicking her front legs in and out of the water so that she was continually splashing. Riley on the other hand, was typically nonplussed and looked on rather bemusedly as if wondering what all the excitement was about.  It was funny and so enjoyable, and I realised that it was perhaps the first time that I had truly enjoyed a simple fun pony morning without worrying, feeling nervous or apprehensive and was able to really relax and have a nice time.

An unexpected milestone

happy rider patting horse in praise
After our first unsupervised canter together, I felt so proud of him and was quietly pleased with myself
The elation didn’t stop there, as Sunday produced an unexpected milestone.  I had tacked Riley up with the intention of hacking, however, took the opportunity to take him to the manege for a few photos prior to the hack.  My intention was simply five minutes of walking round, although this turned into trotting.  Now Riley wasn’t too keen on the idea and was proving a bit difficult. Despite Riley’s reluctance, I tried to keep in mind all of my lessons with Emma and put what I had learned so far into practice.  As I was happily trotting along, I wondered if I should try a canter.  This was a big moment for me as I had only cantered Riley under Emma’s supervision, and never independently as I had lost my confidence in canter after discovering that Riley hadn’t really ever cantered before I bought him and had found it quite difficult initially. This morning though, I found myself wanting to try, so I asked Riley for canter and he went into it straight away and I had a quick canter on each rein.  I was so proud of Riley and dare I say it, felt rather chuffed with myself.

As soon as we had stopped cantering, I only trotted a few steps and then brought him back to walk.  I patted him with such immense pride, and grinning like a Cheshire Cat I walked him around the manege feeling as though I was doing a victory lap. Moments like this bring pure joy and create memories that I will treasure forever.

If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here

Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

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Hello My name is Sharon Howe and I am horse mad. This site is my place to scribble away my…


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