When it comes to horses, it’s easy to forget that there are highs and lows. Just when you feel as though you are making progress, a backward step often follows and can feel like a major blow.
I left the yard feeling elated
The week began promisingly enough. Riley was super during his schooling session with Emma on Monday. During the following day, Riley and I enjoyed a good lesson and managed some cantering, which given the difficulties encountered in this area over the last few weeks meant that I left the yard feeling elated. This feeling was short-lived, however.
Dreams crashing down
The next time Emma schooled him, Riley was reluctant to canter and at the end of the lesson she mentioned that he felt sour. This came as a shock and left me feeling rather flat. Naturally, I want the best for Riley, and always believed that he enjoyed his work. My dream for he and I is to compete at dressage and until now it had all felt possible. This single remark brought my dreams crashing down and made me question our future plans.
After an upsetting evening fuelled by anxiety and doubt, I awoke the next morning full of renewed hope. Rather than thinking it was all over, I decided the way forward was to give him more variety in his work. It is so easy to do too much of the same thing, particularly if it all feels comfortable and fits in with established routines and practices.
I determined to address this and push beyond my own fears
As we are not yet competing and since there is a beautiful off-road hack on our yard, there has been no change of scenery for Riley. I have only hacked off the yard once during this year so far. I am not the most courageous rider in the world and do not enjoy the small amount of road work that is needed in order to hack off the yard. I now determined to address this and push beyond my own fears in order to improve things for Riley.
He naturally makes a nice shape over the poles
A session of jumping over poles on the lunge later that day gave Riley a complete change. Not only did he really appear to enjoy it, but I was also reminded of how lovely his jump is. Riley doesn’t over jump and he naturally makes a nice shape over the poles. He really needs to do more of this, although as I also need to learn to jump all over again and find the courage to do so, this part may prove particularly tricky.
Another decision I made was to give him a day off each week. This was something that I used to do when he first came to me but stopped when I moved yards. Following discussions with Emma about his work routine, we agreed that I should hack him at the weekends whilst he was on schooling during the week. This week, I gave him the whole weekend off and he didn’t do anything at all, well except have lots of cuddles.
A pivotal moment for Riley
I am hoping that this is a pivotal moment for Riley and I, and that with an occasional change of scenery and more variety in his work, he will be happier. I’ll keep you posted on progress as we move forwards.
If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here