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A work in progress

Since owning Blackjack, every time I have ridden it has been under the guidance of Emma (my coach) which has been essential. This week I went solo, briefly, but you have to start somewhere. Blackjack has started to mature and my confidence and trust in him is growing.  I am not yet ready to relinquish my safety vest, nor do I  have absolute faith in him yet, however I don’t worry that a rustling tree or a galloping horse in another field will automatically result in disaster. Even though my belief in Blackjack is strengthening and despite his ability more often than not to deal with new situations, a slight fear in my mind remains. Our partnership is young and it’s very much a work in progress for both of us.

Blackjack flew forward clearly startled

One morning this week before Blackjack and I were due to begin a lesson, I tacked him up. Usually, I wait for Emma to arrive before putting on his bridle and starting to ride, but in one mad or was it a brave moment?  I decided to walk him down to the manege before she arrived. On the way to the manege, a solitary bird flew out of the feed room as we passed by and Blackjack flew forward clearly startled. Once we had regained composure, we walked on. By now though, my mind was working overtime and I started to worry about my life choices. A state of mind amplified by unusual loud noises coming from machinery in close proximity to the manege. How would he react now?

A huge moment 

I needn’t have worried, he was fine with the noises.  On arrival at the manege, rather than hopping straight on Blackjack, I hand walked him around hoping that this would settle us, (or rather myself, as he was completely unfazed) and questioning whether I should wait for Emma to arrive before getting on. Instead, I took him to the mounting block, gave him is polo and attempted to mount. Whilst I was hesitating, Blackjack finished his polo and walked off, leaving me with a new dilemma. How I was going to be able to keep him stood still at the block? Happily the polo had worked it’s magic and he remained standing long enough for me to climb on board, so we began walking around for the first time ever without supervision. This was a huge moment for me.

I even considered singing

Once I had settled into the idea that we were on our own I asked Blackjack for trot and sure enough he trotted and remained very well behaved. On the other hand, I was beginning to feel some neck tension and so took a few deep breaths to keep me calm.  I even considered singing, as some people do to relieve tension although I wasn’t quite sure how Blackjack would react to that and so I just continued with the deep breathing which was much quieter.

There’s always a new challenge

Emma arrived about ten minutes later to start our lesson and I started to relax. We carried on riding and had a very rewarding lesson. One conclusion that I drew from riding solo for the first time was that when it comes to horses, I will continually be stepping outside of my comfort zone as no matter how much progress we make, there’s always a new challenge to face.

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

Country & Equestrian Blogger

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


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