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Even horses get the Monday blues

Sharon riding Riley her beloved pony
Riley and I enjoying a weekend hack. Inspired by watching the Tokyo Olympic on TV, I couldn’t resist trying to emulate Isabel Werth’s Olympic dressage routine by riding one handed. For me, it was a stand out moment along with the bronze medal for Team GB
  Even horses get the Monday blues. Riley was noticeably reticent at the start of his schooling session with Emma, however he did show a bit more enthusiasm as the session continued. I sometimes wonder if it is because we usually have two days hacking over the weekend and the thought of returning to a schooling session on a Monday doesn’t seem appealing.

Inspired by the Tokyo Olympics

As the Olympics were on television, I had been watching all the dressage coverage with great enthusiasm. Of course, I was rooting for Team GB but also for each individual person as it is all about the partnership between horse and rider and like most people, I want the best for each of them. Watching the equestrians at the Olympics really made me appreciate the level of work that has taken place in the months and years beforehand. Because the leading riders make it look effortless, it’s easy to forget that each step of the test is ridden with complete concentration.

Whilst there were glimmers of hope, there is still a long way to go.

Pony lying down in his stable
Time spent relaxing and having kisses and cuddles with Riley is so special
I always notice that the riders hands remain incredibly still throughout, which is something I am determinedly working to improve on for myself. If I concentrate hard, I can do it, however the moment my focus diverts elsewhere, my hands often move. I have a terrible habit of moving them to one side or the other in an attempt to help me steer, when, as Emma often reminds me, I should be using more leg. Whilst I know this to be true, it’s something that I have to work extremely hard to concentrate on. My next lesson during the week was pole work. After observing the Olympians, I desperately tried to keep my hands where they should be. I must report that whilst there were glimmers of hope, there is still a long way to go.

Kisses and cuddles

two hearts equestrian clothing image Sharon and Riley
Two hearts. How appropriate
  When the weekend arrived, I headed to the stables for a hack, however time was tight and when I arrived Riley was lying down and looked so comfortable, I couldn’t bring myself to disturb him so took the opportunity to have some kisses and cuddles. Oh! and a photo or two, as before owning Riley, I always looked at pictures of owners lying down in the stable with their horses and wished I could experience that. The first time I saw Riley lying down and was able to be with him was magical. And it still is. After a while, Riley decided that he had rested enough and stood up. Glancing at my watch, I realised there was still just enough time for a short hack. Judging by the number of times Riley yawned whilst being tacked up, he was probably thinking thank goodness it’s only a short hack.

Mechanical Horse

mechanical horse dressage test simulator
Moments before entering the dressage arena for a simulated test on the mechanical horse. It all went downhill from here…
After turning him out, I got into my car and headed off to Wales for another session on the mechanical horse with Emma. Pleased with myself after the last session as my position and hands hadn’t been awful, and of course I had managed to keep the horse straight, I was looking forward to another successful session. Upon arriving at the riding centre where the mechanical horse is based, Emma greeted me with the news that it wasn’t going to be quite so easy this time, and she was absolutely right. She had set up a simulated dressage test. Now, my steering on Riley isn’t all that it could be, and on the mechanical horse it was distinctly dodgy. Trying my utmost to ride with composure and concentration, I crashed into the simulated dressage arena barrier. The session was really enjoyable though and really useful. It highlighted the issues I have with Riley, and I could see how the problems I had on the mechanical horse would translate to him. The mechanical horse lesson was a really helpful exercise, and I went home more aware of the riding issues to be addressed. Whilst I was already determined to ride better, this helped me understand my predicament more clearly and I know that with Emma’s help, I will be better able to focus on the areas which can be improved upon.

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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