On an unseasonally mild New Years Eve, five of us were due to have a pole lesson with Emma. As our various schedules normally mean that myself and the other liveries ride at different times, our yard seemed a hive of activity that day as all five of us tacked up our respective horses.
When Emma initially sent a message to everyone inviting them to the pole lesson, I was hesitant in replying. Riley is the only pony of the group, and since a couple of the horses are naturally very forward, I was a little worried that they would be held up by Riley’s relatively slow paces: Nonetheless as I thought it would be useful practice for future warm-up arenas, I said ‘yes’ and then spent the remainder of the morning feeling apprehensive.
I headed to the yard and caught Riley from the field, groomed and tacked him up. Once ready, we headed to the dressage arena on another part of the yard so that we could warm up before the session began. Three of the other horse and rider combinations joined us, however one of the horses which had been playing up when coming in from the field didn’t make it. The owner explained that she had tried some schooling in the smaller manege on our own yard which hadn’t been as calming as hoped, and so the five were down to four.
Couldn’t decide between bucking or rearing so just did both
As we were all warming up, one of the rider combinations was having difficulty with her horse, which was bunny hopping around and couldn’t decide between bucking or rearing so just did both. At this point it was uncertain how long it would be before she would be able to join in the fun with the rest of us.
The poles were set up and three of us began trotting around the arena whilst Emma gave us instructions on when she wanted us to go over the poles and in what direction. Sometimes we were in file order, occasionally on our own and she also had us all doing the poles at the same time but coming in from different directions which must have looked chaotically amusing to onlookers however we were enjoying it immensely.
The fourth member of the group did finally join us for a short spell although despite her horse starting to settle, she took the decision that a shorter successful attempt at poles was a win and quit whilst they were ahead.
Another worry for me prior to this session had been having to canter within the group. Riley and I as a combination are not as established in this area and my steering isn’t always reliable. Despite this I took the positives from the day and saw that just being able to canter within the group was an achievement for us.
As the lesson ended, we cooled down and chatted about how much we had enjoyed it. We were all feeling on a high. Inwardly I wondered why I had felt so anxious beforehand and reminded myself how unnecessary it had been to worry.
One thing I am certain of is that Riley’s highlight of the session was the mint which he received from Emma at the end. I felt so proud of him. He truly deserved that mint.
If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here