Another update: now with 20% more cantering

Things continue to go well for us. This is what horse owning is supposed to be like. Mr S is very much enjoying that at lately he knows what mood I’ll be in when I get back from the stables – a good one.

Everything is so much easier when you’re on the same page as your horse. At last we seem to be getting things together. We had one ride this week where he was so switched on and I could have whichever canter lead I wanted as soon as I asked and anywhere in the school I chose. My seat in general and in canter specifically is much stiller and, perhaps as a consequence, I think I’m starting to get some speed changes within the canter, even sometimes on the fast right rein, which usually comes in two flavours : “ridiculously fast” or “oops, no, that’s a trot again.”

I told you before that I had become a canter whore, but I think it’s really only in the last fortnight that it’s really kicked in. Before now my favourite gait was trot. Now it’s definitely canter, and if you tell us we can’t canter, we both get a little frustrated. The canters are the meat of our workouts now. And we’re really working!

That said, I did a little sitting trot work today and had a few pleasing moments. I need to practice more, but I find it hard to plan a workout for both crazy cantering with his brain switched to “reactive” and also the sitting trot work for which he has to tone his trot down to something that barely moves to give me a chance, and then block out the bouncing thing on his back, which necessitates switching his brain to “ignore.”

Despite our intense canter work, in our jump lessons we’re still mostly jumping from trot. We had a lesson yesterday and it went really well. We worked up to a little course of 8 jumps, mostly crosspoles. We had a couple of occasions where we went around rather than over the jumps but they were minor blips and although I know they happened and they were undesirable, they didn’t touch my confidence, which was really rather high. As it was a Saturday lesson there were spectators, many of whom haven’t seen me jump since I last did the group lesson, and several people seemed rather impressed with my progress. I got the feeling my instructor was quite surprised at how well we did, especially as she threw some steering challenges into the course – one of which caught me out the first time, but after that gave me no problems.

I’m glad to say she didn’t 09506-500x500make us jump what she’d made some of the others jump that day – a skinny wooden frame with this road sign attached, which I think was about 1 m wide, to give you an idea of scale. Actually I think we were in no danger of being asked to jump at as it was taller than anything we’ve tried so far, but it was leant up against the fence of the school and apparently was one of the spookiest things imaginable for D. We had many many passes by it in our warm up and still had issues with it later on in the lesson. Actually the owner had made the sign into a jump purely because so many horses had spooked at it out hacking, so she thought it would be good for a challenge for those riders ready for one! I’m not looking forward to the day I’m asked to jump it though, but maybe by the time that day comes I’ll be up for it. I have to say I’ll really struggle not to stare at the jump when it’s that eye catching.

I think this is a sign* that my confidence is rising – I do believe there will be a day when we’re ready to try scary fillers (although I’m hoping we’ll start with the painted pigs with the big staring eyes first, they’re much smaller and less intimidating.) Only months ago I was wondering if I’ll ever be able to do a walk-trot-canter dressage test; now I’m wondering how high we can jump together, one day, when we’re ready. I even caught myself wondering whether we might go out and try cross-country one day in the far off future. I’m not sure about that one though – cross-country seems a bit on the terrifying side to me 🙂 But who knows? Anything’s possible.


*Pun intended 😉

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