Saturday, 8 July 2017

Super schooling

Ron has spent a good chunk of his time this week in the ménage doing some schooling. Since we've been working on the same things each time and there has been steady progress but no major breakthroughs I don't feel the night to write about each ride individually so this will just be a quick summary of how we've been getting on with it.
The actual journey up to the ménage has improved in that he's gotten faster and less nervous of things on the road that would initially give him pause (and I do mean pause, like stand and stare pause lol) and will happily truck right on up with very little leg required.
He's also notably more confident once he's in there. He no longer needs a period of reflection when he arrives to decide that it's safe, he can just head straight to work no problem.
Mainly we've been working on transitions but also lots of work on maintaining the gait you are cued into. If I have asked you to trot you are trotting until I ask for a different gait, not until you feel you have done enough trotting lol. He's getting much better at that, obviously he still needs encouragement but it's a lot less. Same with the canter, once he's in it he's pretty solid at staying there until I ask him to trot again and accepts leg aids to keep it up really well if he starts flagging.
I have to say each time I school him he feels that tiny bit more rideable than the time before so I think we're trucking along quite nicely really. He's a good pony.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Fat to fit least trying, we all know it's not that quick! Ron is firmly in his new fitness regime and well on the way to being a sexy, slender pony (ok so not well on the way, but he'll get there).
On Saturday we went for a hack, about an hour in total with lots of work in fields that meant we could trot and canter lots and lots. He was good, had a little spook at the dogs barking as he went through the top farm but can't complain, off to a good start.
Monday evening I did a quick 30 minute schooling ride in the field when I woke up from my night shift. The vast majority of the ride was in trot bc cardio! He was good, nice and forward, didn't try to drop to walk before I asked him to and did some nice canters too.
Tuesday we went up to the menage and did some work o
ver some trotting poles, Ron started out a little up and cheeky but soon realised I was being for reals and worked nicely. I had L's mum D giving me some tips before she went to pick L up from school which was like a mini lesson.
Today Hatti strolled with me as I took him up there again and had another mini lesson with D.
He was super duper good and set straight to work, he was really forward and really seemed like he wanted to work, he popped into trot with no hesitation, slipped himself beautifully over the poles and then....hopped over his first little cross pole!
He was so freaking chill about it, just casually trotted up and over then (and this is a big deal to someone who owns Sunny) just trotted away all chill like nothing exciting had happened! I was so so proud of him!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Adjustability within the gait

That was the focus of last weeks lesson at the riding school. This time I was signed up for Tyson, who was shorter than the horses they have been putting me on so far at I would say around 15hh, but very, VERY wide (dude's feet were the size of my head). He was super duper cute though and I was informed he was also trained up to medium dressage but warned he could be lazy. The first job was to get him awake and responding, which took a lot of transitions and a knowledge (for him) that I had a whip lol! Once I had him responsive it was all about working on transitions within the gate, rather than just accepting the first walk/trot/canter he offered I had to ask him for more. And then some more. Then less. But then more again.
It was a really good lesson, I'm very much enjoying getting to ride different horses after so many years of just riding horses I know super well. I'm also very much enjoying having more regular lessons this year, I feel like I'm actually starting to make some little improvements in the way I ride, long may it continue!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ronald fitness plan

So guys, I don't know if you're aware, but Ron is fat.
Le gasp!
I know, I see you recoiling in horror, but it's true, pony is not just a little bit fat he's ever so very roundly fat. He's fat.
But I have a plan ok?! We're currently in the process of connecting the electric fencing in the field up to mains rather than battery so I'll have stronger fencing to keep him in meaning I will be more able to restrict his grazing, he's wearing a grazing muzzle (insert sad pony face here) and we're upping the ante with his work.
He's recently had quite a drastic change in the state of his feet (TLDR: They looked shitty, I've changed farrier and started supplements accordingly and they're on the road to looking like nice strong feet again) which means I'm feeling more comfortable with asking him to walk over footing that would have been very on the ouchy side before so can explore a little more on our hacks! We've had a heat wave here recently meaning it's been super hot right into the evenings to the point that it wasn't fair to expect him to work (I know most of my readers are American's and it gets much hotter there but for us Brits it was super hot and he's just not accustomed to that) but although I'm working more hours than usual over the next couple of weeks there is no reason (weather permitting) that I shouldn't be able to work him at least 4 times a week and I'm going to make it count! Lots more trotting and hill work, we're going to work off that poundage!

Last week Beth came up and we had a schooling session on the ponies together which, I'm not going to lie, was less about serious dressage schooling and more about just fitness work and having fun, because it's been actual years since we've schooled together. We did put most of the focus on transitions and most of the ride was in trot with a fair bit of canter work so although no big schooling breakthroughs happened it was good cardio work for the boys!

The day after (I don't remember specifics this is all I can give you) Ron had a hack which again involved a couple of good canters, he was super good and is starting to pick up the pace slightly (and I do mean ever so slightly) whilst out and about.
This picture isn't from that hack and I can't remember if I've used it already but meh, media!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Double lesson day

I did a potentially awkward thing when I not only booked a lesson at the riding school and a lesson with Sam not only on the same day, but with only 45 minutes between the end of one and the start of the next. Alas, that was how the scheduling worked so the only option was to make it work. So make it work I did!
I started out at the riding school and this time I was assigned Samuel (not Sam ok? His name is Samuel, got it? Also, anyone with a super good memory may recall my Pa riding Samuel in our fathers day lesson last year!) who I was informed was trained up to medium dressage before he came to the riding school which was super exciting but also lol don't expect me to do that bc can't. Instructor started the lesson by reminding us of the dressage scales of training, pointing out that to successfully move up the levels you need to have solidified the one below. Then we were sent off to warm up our mounts (Beth was on Jack who was suuupper pretty) and assess where their current way of going. After that, basically the idea was to ride in a way that got us further up the scale to where the horses were capable of being. It was a super lesson, one of the main focusses for me was KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS BACK AND SIT UP. Isn't it always? One day maybe I'll give it a shot. Probs not tho.

Then we scootled on home and Beth helped me get Sunny all groomed and tacked up just in time for Sam's arrival. The focus of Sunny's lesson was our old nemesis; left bend. We can now achieve incredible suppleness in walk, walk is really not an issue at all he will bend both ways as soon as you ask him super softly. Trot on the other hand. We still prefer to bend right. Even if we're going left, not a problem, we are perfectly capable of dropping the inside shoulder and looking out don't worry! We did make some headway in the end but it's definitely something we need to keep working on, I'll be the first to admit his schooling has taken a hit in recent months. I've not ridden him as much as I would have been last spring and when I have I've generally had the opportunity to hack which obviously I am unlikely to pass up because I love hacking, but I will do my best to crack back on with it, I'd forgotten just how much fun he is when he's being super fancy and pretty.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Up and coming rider

t's always amazing to see a new rider just getting into the sport and being able to see straight off the bat that they have a level of natural talent and ability that we rarely see in such a raw form. I was able to experience this feeling this week...
Ha! Seriously tho, how cute is Beth's puppy?! He came up with her on Wednesday afternoon and we managed to work both boys. First I hacked Sunny while Beth and Yugi (the puppy) came along with us. When we got up to the top farm L was tacking up her pony so we waited and had a chat with her mum then she joined us on our little hack. We hacked around one of the fields and then back home. One we got back to mine L and Ted waited while I put Sunny back out and Beth got Ron tacked up, then Ron and L hacked back up to L's house and through the field, going for a couple of fun little canters in the field. Beth then had a little scoot around in the menage because L's mum was walking the dogs and the calf on the lane and the calf kept running at Ron. Once the calf was back in line we tootled back on home.

I'm just so attractive...

Saturday, 3 June 2017

More firsts for Ronald

Always fun when you sit down to write a blog and realise it's been almost a week since you rode your horse. Oopsie! In all fairness, I've been busy this week and when I have time to ride I'm generally giving more time to Ron since he's v overweight and needs more training. Sunny is pretty chill if I get on after 2 days or 2 weeks so he's enjoying life with the occasional ride.
Friday afternoon I decided to take Mr Ron out for another hack. At the minute I think he needs the kind of fitness that I'm more easily able to do on a hack than schooling so he is mostly hacking. Beth has schooled him recently though so he's not just a hacking pony, however he is a very good hacking pony.
His version of spooking is basically to stand still while he takes stock of the situation, which is very much a manageable spook. I just let him stand a minute, ask him to move on then reward any steps forward, rinse and repeat as many times as required. We were out for about an hour and had a very enjoyable time. We had a couple of canters in the big field behind the woods, including one where he side stepped to avoid a little pothole and I decided not to go with him and slipped off the side. He was super good and just stood looking at me as if questioning why I would stop in the middle of fun canteringness. Falling off on a hack has always been one of my biggest fears so the fact that I not only survived it but also laughed as it happened feels very good! I got back on after and had another canter to prove to him that I won't always ditch him mid canter and then we tootled on slowly home.