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A Confession

Sharon Howe and Riley in the manege
Just three weeks to go before our first dressage test at a venue. We still have a lot of work to do
When Emma started off the week by saying “I have a confession to make,” I began to worry. It transpired that the video she had recorded of our dressage test last week, wasn’t of suitable quality to be submitted for the online dressage test marking. Rather than being disappointed, I viewed it as a welcome opportunity to have another go. I must admit that haven’t yet broken the news to Riley that he needs to pull out all the stops again though.

All was still and the owls were hooting

We schooled later than usual a couple of times this week, and I discovered how enjoyable it was to ride in the darkness. All was still and the owls were hooting. A couple of times I even saw a fox by the manege. Despite this, I do think I may be less enthusiastic on the really chilly winter nights.

A breakthrough for Riley and me

Pony and rider on a hack
Although we are working hard towards our dressage goal, we always break up Riley’s routine to keep him interested. We both enjoy a leisurely hack each week
During one of these dark evenings, something unseen, caused Riley to spook quite badly and after jumping towards the middle of the manege, he seemed set to run. Luckily for me, he quickly listened to the halt aid so I did a couple of leg yields and small circles to take his mind away from whatever was scary. Happily, he calmed down swiftly and soon had his mind focussed back on our ride. This scare did provide some benefit though as he was very keen to canter and for the first time ever Riley and I completed a full circuit of left canter around the whole manege. A real breakthrough for Riley and me!

Giddy with success

I knew it was possible because I had witnessed Emma do it many times but had never managed it myself. I think I may have become a little over optimistic though. Feeling giddy with success, I then tried to canter a circle and the mission flopped and had to be aborted. My inability to canter a circle with Riley is rather concerning as we have our first preliminary test booked for the end of December. There are two canter circles to complete during the test and I am nowhere near doing a single one.

A grey fire breathing dragon

close up cute Welsh Section C pony face
Riley needs more schooling in busy arenas so that he can get used to meeting more “fire breathing dragons”
Riley had a taste of having to school with other horses on Sunday when we rode in the indoor school during some rather inclement weather. Sophie and Onyx were already in there and since we have ridden with them before I was confident that this wouldn’t faze him.  In fact he didn’t take too much notice. The same can’t be said for the grey pony that also joined us shortly after. My goodness, Riley looked at it as though it was a grey fire breathing dragon and working in an outline is virtually impossible when your pony only wants to focus on the dragon. He kept a wary eye on it at all times. He wasn’t anywhere near as phased by the black plastic bag that was flapping about in a small missing section of the indoor school that Sophie had prewarned us about.

Overall, it was a good experience for Riley as to what to expect in the warm-up arena when we do our first test later this month. It also highlighted that we definitely need more schooling sessions with fire breathing dragons.

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

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