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Riley demonstrates his objection

Riley is an absolute star although he knows how to demonstrate any objections he may have
Each week, Riley’s riding plan begins with my instructor Emma, schooling him on a Monday whilst I watch.  Before schooling begins, I have to get him to the manege which involves plenty of encouragement from me as he stops and plants himself firmly a number of times en-route, demonstrating his objection to the hard work coming his way very shortly. This week was no different although with steely determination from me, Riley as always gave in and reluctantly made his way into the arena.

I can’t always keep him in canter

On Tuesday I had a most enjoyable lesson and cantered.  I am becoming less anxious before the lesson about cantering and am more relaxed during it.  I do tend to tilt forwards and I can’t always keep him in canter, so the basics need plenty of work and there is much room for improvement.  One of the highlights however was when Emma commented that I had him trotting better than she had ever seen from me. This is high praise indeed from Emma which gave me a feeling of progress and felt like a step forward. Afterwards, Riley and I hacked around the beautiful estate where Riley is now based, with the intention of doing the shorter route, however the sun was shining, and we were both feeling so chilled I ended up taking the longer route.

My first time in a proper dressage arena

Riley and I enjoying a relaxing hack
As I was tacking up for Wednesday’s lesson, Emma announced that I would be riding in the 60 x 20 dressage arena which was exciting.  Riley had ridden in that arena a couple of times with Emma, but it was a first ever for me.  We also had a canter and Emma mentioned at the end of the lesson that she wasn’t sure whether she was going to ask me to canter, since it was my first time in a proper outdoor dressage arena, however she felt confident that I was ready.

At one point Riley did get rather whizzy

It was becoming increasingly obvious that I rely on my reins too much and not enough with my seat, so Emma announced that she had a plan. I didn’t ask what the plan was but sensed that it would soon become apparent.  Her plan became crystal clear on Thursday when Emma mentioned that we would be having a lunge lesson.  I clearly misunderstood her intentions and asked if he just needed his bridle. Emma looked at me as though I had two heads. At that point I realised she meant I would be riding whilst she lunged Riley. Riley was an absolute angel during the lunge lesson, particularly since he isn’t always well-behaved when being lunged.  My reins were confiscated, and we did lots of trot with my arms out to the side or in front of me.  At one point Riley did get rather whizzy and I found myself holding the front of the saddle with one hand. Emma schooled Riley again on Friday. Afterwards when he was relaxing back in his stable, I changed into my running clothes for operation “getting riding fit” to commence, and I had my first run which was from the yard to home.  I am formulating a fitness plan and have decided as part of my new regimen, to run three times a week.

Riley had a bonus day off.

Riley was a true gentleman whilst hacking out on a very windy day
I had planned to hack on Saturday, however as I arrived back at the yard, the horses were just about to be fed and at that moment, I decided to let him have his dinner at the same time as the others rather than after the hack, so Riley had a bonus day off.

Riley and the yummy Easter cake

Sunday turned out to be a very windy day although we still headed off for a hack around the farm ride as planned.  Riley was a true gentleman during the hack. The only time he seemed unsure was when he heard one of the metal field gates swinging in the wind which caused him to stop and look a few times as we headed towards it, so he needed a little gentle encouragement to walk past. I took my phone with me to take a photo and rather optimistically, a video of us which proved trickier than I had realised so the first video attempt was more of an outtake. Afterwards we returned to the yard and I untacked and gave him his feed.  One of the other liveries had bought a horse friendly easter cake and gave Riley a piece which judging by the noises he was making, he thoroughly enjoyed.  
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Sharon Howe

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