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A snail could have overtaken us

Riley is usually  unfazed by most things however some of the smallest things can unexpectedly cause him to spook. These quirks of his always make me smile.
Rather than the usual Monday schooling, Riley and I began the week with a hack. I’m happy to report that it was a relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable time spent together although I lost count of how many times Riley jumped out of his skin. Within the first two minutes he had spooked twice although I have no idea of what the offending scary things were. He has never been a speedy walker whilst hacking and always starts off very tentatively, and incredibly slowly. I’m not prone to exaggeration, however I swear that on this particular occasion a snail could have overtaken us.

He jumped out of his skin

We had headed down the lane towards the chocolate box cottage and rounded the corner to go past it, which is always a potential spooky location. Then, just as we were at the entrance to the field beyond the cottage, he jumped out of his skin and stood still, snorting as though afraid of something, although looking around, I couldn’t see what that particular something was. I patted him which calmed him down and waited a few moments before asking him to walk on which he did but with heightened alertness.
Rounding the corner past the cottage to enter the crop field. It’s such a beautiful spot although it’s also the place where Riley is most tense. Just look at his expression
I considered cutting the hack short because usually if he spooks in the early part of the ride, he is more aware of everything which can cause problems throughout the hack however I decided to carry on and luckily all was calm, and Riley was a perfect gentleman for the rest of the trip.

“Horses can’t talk but they can speak if you listen” – Author Unknown

Later in the week I tacked up for my lesson and then Riley and I headed to the manege to warm up before Emma arrived for our training session. Once on board I noticed that he hadn’t turned his head around looking for a polo mint which is something he always does before we leave the mounting block. I leant forward to give it to him and he remained facing forward. He wasn’t interested and I found this refusal strange. I asked him to walk which he did, however half-way around the manege, he suddenly stopped. I initially thought it was because a pheasant had joined us, and so once it was gone, I asked Riley to walk. He responded by stretching his neck upwards like a giraffe and placing his head high in the air and refusing to budge. Whilst he isn’t always overly keen to work, this was very out of character for him and I knew he wasn’t happy and that there was something wrong, I just didn’t know what. I decided to take a look at him from the ground and so hopped off his back and led him around the manege.
Riley and I at the mounting block outside his stable. Normally he will take a polo mint from me once I’m aboard.
He seemed to be walking freely so remounted, only for another polo refusal and putting his head in the air. A few moments later Emma arrived, and I told her that Riley wasn’t happy. She watched him walk and noted that he appeared a bit stiff on his back leg, so we cancelled the lesson. Isn’t it amazing how much one polo can tell you?

Riley’s many little quirks never fail to make me smile

.The following day we lunged Riley to see if there was any improvement and were pleased that his right leg did indeed look better although still a little stiff. We rounded off the week with a leisurely hack on Saturday and Sunday, one of them a drizzly one. I did chuckle to myself though when thirty pigeons flew out from the crop field as we were walking past, and he didn’t bat an eyelid yet had jumped out of his skin earlier in the week when one solitary pigeon had managed to scare him. Just one of Riley’s many little quirks which never fail to make me smile.

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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