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This week, with the cantering goal which I had set for Riley and I in mind, I found myself heading off to a local riding school for an assessment lesson.

Confidence barrier

I have lost confidence in my ability to canter with Riley so have resorted to going to a local riding school to canter on a different horse. I haven’t told Riley
  With years of stopping and starting riding lessons, I have found that there is a confidence barrier for me to break through. I have discovered that I am able to overcome my fear by repeatedly doing the very thing I am fearful of, over and over until I reach a point where I say to myself, “oh that’s actually okay”. Once I reach this point, I am fine so long as I keep doing it. Perversely, if I stop that activity for a period of time, I have to start from a position of being extremely nervous again.

A safe reliable riding school horse

As I had rapidly been losing my confidence whilst trying to canter Riley, I came to the conclusion that some riding lessons on a safe, reliable riding school horse who knew it’s job would be beneficial, and hopefully get me to the point where I felt comfortable cantering. Then I might be able take that new found feeling of confidence to riding Riley and may enjoy more success in my attempt to canter him


Luckily I hadn’t relayed that thought to my instructor

. So having explained my predicament to a local riding school, and outlined all of the attributes that my noble steed would need, I found myself sitting on pony called Tom. Once onboard, I was far less nervous than I had expected and as we began trotting around the riding school, I felt reasonably comfortable, although in my mind, I had already decided that we weren’t going to canter that day. Luckily I hadn’t relayed that thought to my instructor, so when she told me to canter in the next corner, that is exactly what I did.

The sense of achievement was immense

Riley knows how to avoid work so I have to be consistent and firm which isn’t easy when you are scared.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was actually enjoying it. The sense of achievement was immense. Admittedly Tom’s pace was slower than Riley’s but it was a good starting point. Tom was an angel and looked after me well. Of course being a riding school pony, he knew a few evasion techniques and going to the toilet multiple times was one of them. The assessment went so well from my perspective that I booked another lesson for later in the week and for a second time found myself cantering round the school and enjoying the experience.

It felt as though Riley was galloping

To concentrate on cantering with Riley, Emma gave me another lunge lesson which was helpful.  It did however highlight the difference in speed between Riley and Tom. It felt as though Riley was galloping when compared to Tom’s slower canter pace. Emma was quick to bluntly point out out that Riley wasn’t fast, and she explained that it was just how it felt to me. Emma also schooled Riley this week and did lots of cantering. It was a useful reminder of how well he knows his job for a capable rider and also that he is a clever enough pony who is adept at evading work if you don’t ask him properly or with conviction.

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

Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

Country & Equestrian Blogger

Hello My name is Sharon Howe and I am horse mad. This site is my place to scribble away my…


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