Riley had a visit from Sam our farrier on Monday, and had his shoes refitted. Now whilst Riley has learned over time to behave for the farrier, he can’t quite help himself when it comes to fidgeting.
I am sure his brain weighs up what level of cheekiness he can get away with: just enough that is amusing but not so much that he gets himself into trouble. This little pony seems to know how to entertain people and evoke a smile from them. He revels in the attention of his audience and usually gives a big cheeky smile back. He is a big character and wins most people over easily.
Afterwards we had a lesson with Emma. We were joined by Sophie and her horse Onyx who we had ridden with before, and also Fiona and her horse Ollie who we hadn’t. It was an enjoyable lesson, although I could not for the life of me produce a single successful canter from Riley. On days like this it’s easy to be frustrated and feel as though I have gone backwards instead of making progress.
My steering crisis
During our next lesson, I rode in the 20 x 60m dressage arena. I love this arena. It always makes me feel like I am at a competition, although this feeling can be short lived if Riley isn’t putting in the required effort on his part. Before the lesson started, I warmed Riley up, although struggled with steering him. My steering crisis continued into the first part of the lesson, however there were improvements later on. We spent the entire lesson in walk and trot and I was somewhat surprised at the end of the lesson when Emma mentioned that the trot work had been really good. It hadn’t seemed like that to me at all, however the comment did make me like it had been a valuable lesson and I felt much happier.
Round and round and round we go
Round and round and round we go, where we stop nobody knows. Well to be fair, Riley and I were on the lunge so we stopped when Emma instructed. We were all drenched, as it was pouring down and we were outdoors. I’m not sure whether Riley thought that if he went faster, it would get him back to his dry stable more quickly as he was very forward, and we joked that perhaps we needed to school him in the rain more often. Riley’s canter felt more like a gallop although I suspect that was just because we were on a circle, and although I was supposed to be holding the saddle with only one hand, I cheated and held on with both.
In the evening I attended a ‘starting out in dressage’ lecture. As this is part of my future plans for Riley and myself, I’m acutely aware that improvements are required, and quickly! This is particularly true when it comes to my twenty metre circles. During the lecture, we had to draw one, and it looked exactly like the 18-metre random irregular shape that I regularly perform when actually in the manege.
He can’t quite help himself
The week ended with a hack around the farm estate where are stables are based. The views are stunning and Riley has done this hack many times before so generally walks around it in very relaxed and casual manner. Today was one of those relaxed days and it reminded me of just how far Riley and I had come together. I have such confidence in him nowadays. There had been times when I wasn’t calm even if he was. It also highlighted to me that I love Riley’s cheeky character. As he is my first pony, I hadn’t realised how lovely this could be. Ground manners are important however I do like the fact that he can’t quite help himself when he sees a tasty leaf if we get too close to a bush. It always makes me chuckle whilst at the same time trying to divert him away.
If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here