Although Riley and I have been together for a while now and have moved forward in a whole host of ways this week marked some new experiences for us both. On Monday, we had a lesson with our new freelance instructor Emma Stant. We first met Emma the previous week for an introductory lesson and assessment, however this week was our first lesson proper. We did various schooling exercises in walk and trot and worked on keeping him straight. Tuesday and Wednesday, I schooled Riley whilst keeping in mind what I had worked on with Emma and we also did some no stirrup work. Whilst I know the importance of no stirrups it is something I often neglect to do, so I thought it was time to get into better habits and have now started to take my stirrups away when warming up in walk. Thursday was a beautiful day and as I had been wanting to start hacking Riley further afield for a couple of weeks, I took advantage of the day. As can often happen with even the best laid plans, things didn’t turn out the way they should. It was my fault completely as I turned Riley out in the morning with the intention of bringing him back in around noon and tacking up. Unfortunately, I had mixed my times up and didn’t have the opportunity I thought I would. So instead, Riley ended up with a full day in the field and since he wasn’t aware of what should have happened, only one of us missed the hack. When I headed to the stables on Friday morning, I did so with the mindset that the hack was going to happen. So, after tacking up and sporting our high-viz, off we went. The first part of the hack is off-road so that was lovely, however eventually you meet a country lane with traffic. Now usually I turn back when I reach the lane, but as I really wanted to venture further, we rode up the lane. Riley handled it well and as it is narrow with passing-places for vehicles, we had to stop many times. I on the other hand was a nervous wreck and was relieved when we finally reached the bridle path about half a mile along the lane. Amazingly, once I was on the bridle path I was completely relaxed and enjoyed every step. We only had one hairy moment when Riley had to walk past a wrapped bale of haylage with a torn wrapper which was flapping around in the breeze. The first time we walked past it he did notice it and paid it careful attention but didn’t stop, however on our return journey it apparently seemed much scarier. As soon as he spotted it, he stopped and wouldn’t walk forward so I had to nudge him on however he started to take steps backwards. I knew that I needed to be confident and encourage him forwards but I did feel troubled about how far his refusal might go, however I knew I had to dig deep so persevered calmly but firmly and in the end he walked past. When we arrived back at the yard two hours after setting out, I saw Jenny, one of the instructors who asked if we had enjoyed our hack and we told her about our first adventure. She laughed and said that we didn’t do things by half as Riley had gone out without another horse, it was windy, and it was his first time on the road. I must confess I hadn’t even noticed the wind and so it never occurred to me to think twice about heading out. Probably because the wind doesn’t normally faze him. Nonetheless, I had an amazing time and couldn’t stop smiling all day long.