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Sharon and Riley hacking on Christmas day

Ride the horse beneath you

enjoying a hack together.
They say ride the horse beneath you. Often, that is easier said than done. This week I ventured off twice to the local riding school for some more canter lessons. Once again riding the confidence giving Tom. It is funny that even though I have only ridden him four times previously, I know that I will be eternally grateful to Tom for helping me believe that I can canter and enjoy it  Tom is doing far more for me than he realises. Riley on the other hand is not such a simple ride. However, this is one of the things I love about him, as he challenges me to be a better rider, even if at times I long to get on him and find it all straightforward.

Most of the difference was probably in my mind.

Riley and I had two lunge lessons with Emma this week to work on the canter. Now although both obviously involved going round in circles, the similarities ended there as they felt so different. Most of the difference was probably in my mind. I was far more relaxed during the first lesson which in turn improved my position and I was able to concentrate on what I was doing. During the second lesson, I did not feel secure in the saddle and sensed that I might fall off which resulted in me doing everything that I shouldn’t . To make things even worse. I found myself gripping firmly with both knees, and whereas I normally hold the saddle with one hand during lunge canter sessions, I was gripping for dear life with both. This was vastly different from the lesson I had enjoyed with Tom where I was sitting upright holding both reins and steering him towards canter poles. I must admit that I was overcome with a wave of apprehension when the instructor told me to canter Tom over the poles and I wasn’t sure I could face it.

Full of confidence

We have had our ups and downs with canter this week but we are making progress
My only memory of cantering over poles previously was when Riley cantered towards a single pole and then decided to jump it, so I wasn’t looking forward to trying that with Tom. However, as Tom cantered over the poles, I didn’t really feel any change in his movement, and so after having done it once, and realising that there was nothing to worry about. I was more than happy to repeat the process many times. The first lunge lesson with Riley had probably been more successful as I had ridden Tom earlier in the same day and was still feeling full of confidence.

No doubt Riley would have cantered round it

After the second lungeing lesson on Riley, Emma asked me to canter independently, and we managed an entire half of the manege. For Riley and me as a combination, this was the most we had done together in a long time. The next couple of attempts were not so successful, and we only managed our few usual steps. Part of the problem was a pole on the floor towards the corner of the manege which was troubling me. I had noticed it earlier when I was warming up, and it was troubling me as my steering in canter is not accurate to say the least. I was worried that it might be hard to avoid. I know that the pole was an obstruction in my mind only. No doubt Riley would have cantered round it, although it did add another level of worry to an already cluttered brain.

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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