After a successful first week of Riley being back into work, I was keen to carry on in the same vein. Emma schooled Riley on Monday afternoon and as I watched on, I was amazed to see Emma doing rein back with him, and how well he was attempting it particularly since he hadn’t done very much of it before. I did notice that he seemed a little argumentative and thought perhaps he wasn’t quite as willing as usual, however Emma said that she had asked a lot of him during the session so made an allowance for that.
Music to my ears
Emma schooled him the following day as well. This time in the dressage arena. There was another livery watching on and she commented to Emma and myself on what a great pony Riley was and that he had a lovely canter. She also mentioned that he would make a nice dressage pony which was music to my ears given our intended journey. I must say that he was working fabulously without any arguments, however inwardly I did think that because Emma was riding Riley, she had seen him at this best. Had I been on board it would not have looked so sleek.
Afterwards I took him for a short hack before returning him to his stable, feeding and then turning him out for the night.
For every bit that I am learning, so is Riley
We had lessons for the next two days in a row, one in the manege on our yard, and the other in the dressage arena. I am finding that each time I canter, my confidence is building, and I am able to try and keep him cantering for longer as he does break off quickly without reminders. For every bit that I am learning, so is Riley. If I tip forward or become unbalanced then I make it difficult for him.
Riley encounters the hay baler
On Friday, my plan was to hack round the farm ride and if I were feeling brave enough, I would have a canter in the field. I thought that the best plan of action would be to head straight to the field and canter at the beginning of the ride to avoid feeling anxious for the whole hack and potentially talking myself out of cantering at all. As with all best laid plans, they don’t always work and sure enough, as I arrived at the field there was a tractor in it cutting the crops. Not only that, but there was a tractor in the next field too, so we didn’t go into the field at all and stayed on the track. We walked further along and saw that there was yet more farm machinery cutting and moving hay bales. Thinking about it, I figured it could go either one of two ways; Either Riley would be very spooky, and this lovely hack could turn into a test of patience and resilience, or he would be calm to the point of being oblivious. You never can tell where Riley is concerned. Luckily, he took it all in his stride and none of the machinery bothered him at all. He didn’t even flinch when about thirty birds flew out from the crops and took us by surprise, and yet at times he can spook at his own shadow. We did end the hack feeling and looking rather soggy as it poured down for the last ten minutes, however the sun decided to come back out when we arrived back at Riley’s stable.
Not my finest hour
Riley and I had a lesson with Emma on Saturday afternoon which mostly consisted of no stirrup work which I hadn’t done for a few months. There were moments where I could sit in a good position in the saddle and found that I wasn’t bouncing around too much although these were few and far between.
We had a canter at the end of the lesson which wasn’t my finest hour. I struggled to get a good canter transition and found myself tipping forward. I think this was more about me willing him to go, however because I was tipping forward and holding my reins too tightly, I was preventing him from cantering. Emma suggested that part of our issue may have been that we had spent the lesson at a slower pace to accommodate the no stirrups work rather than asking him to be more forward. As it all seemed to be going wrong, I was losing my confidence and giving that message to Riley. This was resolved by Emma who hopped on board and cantered him and then I had another attempt after that.
This time I was more successful, although at one point I did think I was going to crash into the fence as my riding crop got in the way and I decided to throw it on the ground: In this moment, I threw one of my reins away by mistake which resulted in a moment of panic. Riley did canter well though as with loose reins he was free to go. On a positive note, it did act as a reminder that I just need to let Riley go forwards, which was of course, the whole point of the final element of the lesson anyway.
If you enjoyed reading this. You can read more instalments of the life of Riley here