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All dressed up with nowhere to go

Riley seems to have gotten over his phobia of walking past the landowners house
There is an idiom which goes “all dressed up with nowhere to go”, which seemed appropriate for Riley and I this week although it wasn’t quite true, as he wasn’t groomed, and neither was I for that matter. A more appropriate analogy might have been “a road to nowhere”. We had booked to go and do our first Intro test in quite a while and had begun the week with a lesson running through our test and then having prepared for it, the competition was cancelled the day before we were due to go.

On a more positive note, immediately after the practice test, we went for a hack to cool down and after last week’s spooking dramas by the yard owners house, I set off fully expecting some push-back from Riley and so was relieved when he walked past the house without batting an eyelid. Mind you, I did have to laugh when he spooked at some black plastic that he had seen countless times before. It was all fine after I pushed him on and we enjoyed the hack without any further drama.

Our nemesis

Blackjack has developed a fear of a particular section of the manege. We’re working on it and he is improving
Whilst on the subject of spooking, Blackjack has recently decided he isn’t keen on one part of the manege, and I now find myself wondering if we are going to make it past this area without him skipping to one side. Blackjack has been in the manege many times before, without having an issue so I couldn’t have foreseen the problem that I would have to negotiate.  Immediately adjacent to the manege there is a field, and often there is a horse in it. Until recently, this hadn’t presented any problems until one day, a different horse appeared in the field. This new horse unexpectedly but briefly popped his head over the fence undoubtedly curious at what was happening in the manege. This startled Blackjack and since then, that particular section of the manege has become our nemesis.

We have been working through that, slowly but surely, starting with coming down the three-quarter line instead of the outside track and edging our way over to the troublesome fence with some limited success.  Just as I feel that he has got over it, he  reminds me that he hasn’t and spooks again the next time around.

Blackjack’s breakthrough

Blackjack can cause me some apprehension occasionally but as we get more used to each other, I am starting to feel more and more relaxed.
Blackjack had a bit of a breakthrough this week, in the lunge pen.  In the early days of lungeing him we tried the lungeing pen, but he would just explode, partly as he would be distracted by the horses in the surrounding fields and his young brain couldn’t seem to handle it.  He always seemed more settled in the manege so we gave up on the lunge pen with no time frame for trying again. Revisiting the lunge pen with Blackjack came by accident rather than design as a few foals and yearlings that normally live out were coming in for the morning to see the farrier.  This meant unusual yard activity and so Emma (my coach) thought we should take Blackjack to the lunge pen and see how he was. He behaved impeccably and it was such a highlight to see how much he had matured and how far he had come.  The very fact that he could handle the surroundings, the distractions and keep his mind on his work filled me with pride. Not only were we able to lunge him, but I was also able to get on board and whilst it took me a while to feel completely relaxed I did manage to settle in.  I did have to dismount rather quickly as a lorry came down the drive and some of the horses in the surrounding fields were becoming lively, so we decided to quit whilst we were ahead.  Since Blackjack was on his toes all the way back to his stable, I realised that taking the win and finishing early was probably the best bet.

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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