Hello! I would like to speak tonight about the lesson I had with the uni at Trent Valley. It was a perfect day for riding in Britain: not too cold, not too warm. At 11:00, two cars full of girls -and one boy- set off from University Park to the equestrian centre to learn amazing things!
Emma would be our instructor for the day. Emma was a member of our equestrian society until last year. She graduated a few months ago and now she does what she likes. As a learner, I believe that Emma’s special skill is her fun and challenging exercises. Her lessons are not just about riding around the school; she will challenge your skill and brains in any way that she can find, using posts, poles, or incorporating many tasks in just one exercise.
So, the lesson went surprisingly well last Saturday. I was riding on Oslo, a beautiful white stallion, who was not in the mood of carrying out a lesson that day, judging from his neck, which he would turn left and right all the time. The staff had put on his bridle special strings to prevent him from doing that, but, well, he just couldn’t stop. This was exhausting for me, because I had to keep his jaw from my body. When we got to the school, Oslo was waiting next to a mare, Flo Joe, so, judging from the fact that the reproduction season is near, I thought it would be a good idea to turn him around. This did not make things perfect, but, at least, he was being less annoying. Another solution that I found was to raise my elbow right under the neck every time I felt that he had turned it the other way. It was painful for the horse, I guess, but it was super tiring for me as well; it’s a heavy neck, you see!
As soon as I mounted on Oslo, I had the feeling that I would be bucked off quite soon and began to recall my falling technique. Thank God, I was wearing a helmet. But I was coping with Oslo’s issue very well in fact; I don’t remember what I did, but I pretended I did not care. At some moment, I pushed the reins forward and squeezed his belly, a technique that Gemma taught me at the last equine therapy lesson at Scorpton. Oslo’s behaviour improved a little bit, but it was obvious that there wasn’t much more that he could do. He was an absolute sweetie, anyways. He would do each and every corner that I asked, and would also keep himself in the outer part of the school. The only problem with that was that sometimes we would stay behind because the other pairs were riding closer to the centre. So, we had to catch up, but Oslo didn’t mind -sweet!
Emma said she hadn’t seen me going that fast before and was surprised to see that Oslo was nice to me on that day. And she was right; despite the problems in his behaviour, it was a beautiful ride. I would handle the reins in a relaxed and easy-going way, without pulling and without too much kicking. Oslo would just be so responsive! He wouldn’t even bother when I kept watching around the others who were doing the exercises; I was so absorbed from that sometimes, that Oslo would assume I had lost interest and slow down. Then, with just a slight kick, he would be active again. And he would correspond to the new way of halting that I’ve learned, with the reins slightly squeezed and my bottom sitting deep in the saddle. Before I would finish my squeeze, Oslo would have already stopped! It was just so simple, easy and pleasant to ride him, even if he couldn’t stop moving his neck!
In general, I feel that, despite the fact that I have attended a smaller number of lessons this year, my riding has significantly improved. I have more and more control of the horse, who would feel quite relaxed. I still can’t use my legs to do turns; I use my core and thighs instead. First of all, I make sure that my spine is aligned to the horse’s and I just become one with the horse really. I turn my body and ask pressure with my thigh on the side I want to turn to; for example, if I want to turn left, I will turn all my upper body left and put some pressure with my left thigh on the left side of the horse. The steeper the turn, the sharper the pressure of the thigh. For the time being I plan to stick to that because the horse looks more responsive to my asks this way. When I push its body just with the opposite leg, I feel that the horse doesn’t know where it’s supposed to go.
In general, I feel satisfied, although I still crave for cantering! When will I canter? When??