Canter, canter, canter has been the order of the week. This, in an attempt to rebuild my confidence to a level where it not only feels ok to canter, but to enjoy it and able to think about steering properly rather than just holding on for dear life and rolling with it.
I schooled Riley on Monday and Tuesday and we did lots of cantering. Even though Riley prefers to canter on the left rein, I find canter on the right rein much easier and consequently we achieve more success on the right, so usually begin that way. Afterwards we progress to left canter which isn’t always so successful. Finally, wanting to end on a good note, we return to right canter.
Small gains mean so much
On Monday, this method worked well enough, however Tuesday’s schooling session didn’t follow in the quite same vein. Try as I might, I couldn’t succeed in getting left canter at all, and so rather than pursuing it to no avail, I returned to right canter in order to finish with some semblance of success. Just before we finished the session though, I felt a wave of determination and steeled myself to get left canter even if only for a few steps. So, I changed the rein again and this time managed to achieve a few precious steps. I quickly changed the rein to finish with right canter knowing that I would be able to keep him going at least halfway around the manege. By the end, I felt quietly pleased with our success. Funny how these small gains mean so much.
Confidence must be growing
On a personal note, what surprised me even more, was that when Riley started speeding up during canter, I went with it, yet only a few weeks earlier when he had done the same thing during a lesson, I had felt a sense of panic and remarked to Emma that it had felt fast. Emma had assured me that it wasn’t. Confidence must be growing, slowly but surely.
We even managed to canter during a joint lesson with my friend Sophie and her lovely mare, Onyx. This was definitely a win, since the last time we rode together I hadn’t managed to get Riley to canter at all.
Riley had a visit from our farrier Sam on Friday and had his shoes refitted. He is usually good for the farrier but must have saved up a little bit of cheekiness as he tried to pull his leg away a couple of times.
As I rode down the centre line, we weren’t particularly straight
Saturday was a big day as there was an in-house dressage competition at our yard, with everyone being filmed, and the tests to be sent off to Dressage Anywhere for judging and marking. Unfortunately, Riley and I weren’t able to take part that day as I was hosting a family birthday party. Emma kindly said that we could record our test on the following Monday. (Keep an eye out in next week’s blog for more about that).
With this in mind, Riley and I spent Sunday afternoon practicing our Intro A test. The first part of our practice session wasn’t overly successful though. As I rode down the centre line, we weren’t particularly straight and there was nothing square about the halt. Afterwards we had a canter and did some more trotting, which turned out rather well as not only was Riley much more forward, but he was also going in a nice outline. This more forward trot is just what we need for future dressage tests and so the one very important thing that I was able to take from this session was that Riley definitely needs a jolly good warm up session to obtain the best outcome.
If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here