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I had missed Riley

Riley and I during one of our schooling sessions. He struggles with canter on one rein and has been objecting a little when getting reminders to keep going recently. It’s a work in progress but we’ll get there eventually
I had only been away for two days and one night, however, I had missed Riley. I rushed to the stables on Tuesday morning, partly because I had to sort out his stable for him coming in from the field overnight, but mostly because I would be seeing him again. I headed to his field with a spring in my step to bring him in and hoped he was as excited as me. He did look happy to see me although I suspect his excitement came from knowing there was a feed waiting for him in his stable.

Riley threw me forward as he bucked

Later that day I was back in the saddle for a riding lesson with Emma. I hadn’t ridden for almost a week so was feeling a little rusty and took a while to settle in. When cantering I commented to Emma that it seemed fast. Her response? “That pace is how it should be.” During canter, Riley threw me forward as he bucked in objection to being reminded to continue. Normally I manage to stay upright, however, I think he objected more than usual. He doesn’t like being asked to continue in canter when he would rather stop and trot instead. It’s one of many things that we are working on

Afterwards we went for a hack around the farm ride, he did have a little spooky jog when we saw some farm machinery but only a couple of steps and was fine after a pat or two. It was lovely to be back with Riley, just the two of us, and I remember thinking to myself this is where I belong. Riley had the next couple of days off and I schooled him on Friday. The following day, we had a lesson scheduled with Emma at 5 pm.

Funny how the mind plays tricks on low confidence isn’t it?

Riley and I enjoying our hack. It was lovely to be back with Riley, just the two of us, and I remember thinking to myself this is where I belong.
I spent the entire day worrying about it as I hadn’t cantered for a few days and the last time we cantered felt fast. I began looking for reasons to avoid it and started telling myself that I wasn’t in the mood to have a lesson and just wanted to hack instead. Deep down I knew it was because I was feeling apprehensive and so resolved to go ahead and do it. The worry had been needless as the cantering was fine, my only issue was keeping him in canter which is a struggle I constantly have and something I need to work on. Funny how the mind plays tricks on low confidence isn’t it? Afterwards we went for that hack I had been wanting and it felt even better knowing I hadn’t cancelled my lesson for the wrong reasons. Had I cancelled, I know I would have spent the whole hack regretting it and beating myself up. I felt good about myself and really enjoyed the hack with Riley who was a gentleman throughout.

Watch out Riley!

Where is the best place to stand when you find yourself at a British Dressage event? Next to Carl Hester of course!
On Sunday, Riley had another day off. I didn’t see him at all that day, as I was going to watch the British Dressage Le Mieux National Championships at Somerford Park. It was a super day and I watched various classes including the freestyle dressage Grand Prix final which was just amazing. Well done to Emile Faurie who not only won, but made it look effortless in doing so. I saw Charlotte Du Jardin in the warm-up arena with her young horse and saw Carl Hester in the fan zone. I even had my photograph taken with him. I watched Tom Goode riding all of the young horses including Charlotte’s. That must have been a little bit daunting however Tom rode it beautifully. One of the young horses was clearly spooked by the occasion and not straightforward at all. I was absolutely in awe of his brilliant riding and calmness. It was easy to see why he is so highly thought of. I am about to publish a recent interview with Tom as part of my “Chatting with” series where I discover more about some of the incredible dressage riders who are currently riding. Some of these riders are already well known; others are young exceptionally talented riders who clearly have a huge future. Sarah Higgins, another top riding talent was also competing at Somerford Park and qualified for the Grand Prix Freestyle Final riding Alfranco. You can catch up with Tom and Sarah and learn more about them and their wonderful horses here

Overall, it was the most fabulous day. I was totally in awe of all of the incredible riders who were competing and as I watched on, I thought to myself “I want to be doing that.”  I came home absolutely inspired and determined to make Riley and into a dressage pair. Watch out Riley!, we are going to master our canter!

If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here  
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Sharon Howe

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