Monday 11th May; I headed to the stables to see Riley. I groomed and tacked him up and then took him into the manege. As Riley still hadn’t learnt to stand still at the mounting block, I needed help to get on and he was such a fidget. Finally, once onboard I attempted to school him, although he had other ideas and didn’t want to take instructions. He just wanted to trot without being asked and then didn’t want to halt. I didn’t take this personally as the other horse in the manege wasn’t listening to its rider either so put it down to a bad day.
On Tuesday morning I groomed, tacked up and headed to the mounting block hoping that Riley would be more amenable than the day before. I wasn’t entirely convinced of this as he had been naughty when I put his bridle on. My next task was how to keep him standing still at the mounting block and Becky my riding instructor who keeps her horse at the same yard was walking past and suggested I give him a reward for standing still. I managed to clamber aboard and once my feet were in the stirrups, I gave him a polo. Then, I walked him around the manege. In the field next to the manege there was a new horse plus another horse who wouldn’t leave it alone. Understandably, the new horse started to get lively which unsettled Riley, who firstly got on this toes, then bucked and then started dancing around. I was so proud of my reaction as normally I would have been terrified however this time I just smiled and said Oh Riley! I just sat and stayed calm. This calmed him down and we went to the far end of the manege away from the horses. Once Riley and the other horses had all settled, I resumed the schooling session.
Later that day the riding school announced riding lessons were going to be starting up again the following week and given the antics of the morning, the news hadn’t come a moment too soon.
A Comedy of Errors
Wednesday morning was almost comical, although admittedly I didn’t feel like laughing at the time. Riley did everything he could to evade the bridle being put on and it all went horribly wrong and ended up looking like something from a comedy show. Someone had left hay on the floor and he kept trying to get to it and wouldn’t accept the bit. After a while, I regrouped and put his head collar back on with visions of starting again hoping it would all work out perfectly as I knew this was a battle I must win but somehow found myself with a horse with no headcollar or bridle on. In the end, I prevailed and managed to get onboard without any major hiccoughs. Luckily, the riding side of it was acceptable and once I was riding it was all forgotten about.
Thursday came and I decided not to do any schooling. Instead went for a hack down the lane behind the riding school and then onto the short bridle path. Riley hadn’t been on the bridle path without another horse before so I wasn’t sure how he would behave although despite one spook when he took offence at a farmer walking in his own field I couldn’t have asked any more of him. I really enjoyed the hack and felt so happy.
Are Polo Mints The Answer?
The polo mints at the mounting block were clearly working as Friday morning he was beginning to stand still. It was still a two-person job, but it did feel as though we were heading in the right direction. The manege was busy so we kept the schooling session short.
On Saturday I gave Riley a day off. I groomed him as I like to see him looking shiny and then simply turned him out. I love walking him to the field although I have learnt the hard way that as I walk through the yard I need to be on the look- out for any stray food that might be to hand. Whether it’s a hay net outside a stable, a feed bowl or even three strands of hay that have been dropped on the floor, Riley will attempt to eat them all.
My Confidence Takes a Hit
Sunday began as a lovely sunny day and rather than do too much schooling, I thought a hack would be nice. After a brief warm up in the indoor school, Riley and I headed off down the lane at the back of the school accompanied by another horse and a young rider from the school.
Whilst I am enjoy having Riley in my life and I know that with horses there are good days and bad, I found this week quite tough. The schooling sessions aren’t always successful, and I know that’s because he hasn’t had the education a horse of his age would normally have had through no fault of his own. I often come away feeling like a bad rider. Sometimes it can feel like an argument and I’m not able to ride properly and think people are judging me and thinking I can’t ride at all. This then also makes me feel as though I’m not competent enough for Riley and that I’m letting him down.
It is often too easy to forget how far he has come so quickly and perhaps also myself. Our bond is building all the time and has already changed in so many ways for the better.