Black and White Horses Everywhere

11 02 2013

I realise that I have not yet updated about last week’s lesson in Leeds, but it was not especially worthy of note, so I shall include the particulars of it in this week’s update instead. Heh. I barely arrived on time due to having fallen asleep before setting off; the rain was lashing it down and it was blowing a gale outside, so dressed up though I was in all my waterproof gear, I called a taxi to make sure I got there on time, which I did… only to discover on arriving at the stables and taking out my phone that that taxi hadn’t been for me. Oh well!

I rode grumpy Bramble this week. It’s a shame she’s so grumpy, she’s beautiful; imagine a stockier cob with the same markings as Tara and a fluffier mane, and you’ve got Bramble. She was industriously chomping at her hay net when I arrived at her stall to lead her out to the school, and didn’t give me any trouble when I went in to disentangle her reins from the chin strap on her bridle and remove her rug. She was characteristically lazy in the school, but when I was firm with her she eventually (and begrudgingly) became more forward going. We practised transitioning from walk to trot and trotting in a 20m circle; I was disappointed that we didn’t do any work without stirrups, as our instructor said we would be doing plenty of that and I really enjoy it, but I felt I’d had a good, productive lesson at the end of it… and a good workout. I lead Bramble back, untacked her and began to put her rug on her, but she got noticeably agitated and had her back hooves to the door, so I left her be after fastening it at the front and went and told one of the staff what I’d done and why. She thanked me, and told me not to worry.

Interestingly, for the first time since I’d joined the group lesson Soapy was included in our lesson. It was strange to see someone else riding around on her at the same time as me after having had all of my private lessons on her previously. Our instructor told her rider at the very beginning that Soapy is grumpy and doesn’t like other horses, so to keep her at two horses’ distance at all times. This surprised me; as the only horse I can remember ever having taken a shine to who seemed to reciprocate to at least some extent, I’d never had her down as grumpy. When I thought about it, though, it made sense; she’s a horse who doesn’t really like horses, and I’m a person who doesn’t really like people. That’s why we’re friends!

Then on to this week. The weather was better – drier, if rather cold, and I made it to the stables a whole quarter of an hour early on foot! This meant that I had time to change into my riding boots get molested by a fluffy black cat I’ve not met before. Heh. I had significantly more trouble zipping up my riding boots this evening… more on that later. When I had eventually got them on, I went into the office to pay and book my next lesson, and then went around to the other side of the indoor school to collect my ride for the evening, who was Paddy.

Paddy is another piebald gelding cob (or is it piebald cob gelding?…) who looked like a male double of Soapy, like Elvis, if a little taller and skinnier. I later learned that he is both very young and new to schooling. He regarded me with wide-eyed suspicion when I approached the door to his stall, and I was quite early so rather than go straight in and start getting him ready I just stood by, not looking at him or talking to him, but just being close. He soon went back to ignoring me and hay-munching. I was set upon by another moggy I’d not met before; this one was tabby, and had dark lips and gums in spite of its white chin, which made it look like it had been eating Blackjacks.

When I heard the lessons in the main arena being called to a finish, I went in and started getting Paddy ready. He refused to walk on for me at first, and attempted to engage me in a barging match. I stood firm and didn’t back down and he stopped, but then attempted to remove my gloves. While I was holding onto the reins under his chin. It was clear this was playful mischief, and I felt bad for having to be a bit tough and forcefully push him to get him to move for me rather than just stay and let him play.

He wasn’t very easy to keep going forwards in the school, either. Well, that’s slightly inaccurate; when he was following Maddy (yet another piebald horse, but I’m not sure what breed; not a cob, I don’t think) he was too active, but when I overtook and led he was impossible, both ignoring my outside-leg-inside-rein asks and lolloping around at an uneven pace. By the end of the lesson he was responding to kicks without me having to back up my asks with a whip, but I would really prefer that whichever horse I ride would just respond to gentle, nudging asks.

Nevertheless, the lesson was good. We walked, we trotted, both sitting and rising. I’m pretty confident with my rising trot now, probably because we’ve done so much work on it now, but seemingly less so with my sitting trot; I used to be able to ride it smoothly, but it seems that I’ve lost the knack I had before of keeping my weight down in my heels while keeping my thighs and knees completely soft. It’ll come back to me, I’m sure; perhaps it was just because I didn’t adept quickly enough to Paddy’s gait, or because I was having to concentrate on keeping him moving forwards. Then we moved onto work without stirrups, and riding in 20m circles again.

I was excited at the beginning of the class, because our instructor said that if there was time we’d move on to cantering! I’m really looking forward to doing it under her instruction because she explains things so well and is so sharp when it comes to picking up on problems. Sadly she didn’t think we had time at the end of the lesson, but she did go through the aids for canter with us as we cooled down out horses and said that as long as our sitting trot was okay next week, we’d have a go then! One thing she said as she was explaining all of this that reassured me a lot was (whilst explaining about the ‘leading leg’), ‘Don’t worry whether it’s all right when you first start; to begin with, you’ll only be able to worry about whether you’re all right.’ Heh.

Then we dismounted along the centre line and put our horses stirrups up. Paddy had another lesson in the indoor school afterwards so I lead him through there, where I was annoyed that the woman who took him off me barely acknowledged me or even said thank you before leading him away!

Once again, I’d already checked the schedule to see whether Soapy would be free after the lesson or not, and as she wasn’t I decided not to hang around this time. I sat down on one of the benches to remove my boots, which had felt tight around the calves during the lesson; my left calf muscle seized up in pain as I unzipped the boot from it, and I cried out in pain before correcting myself for the sake of the horses that were within earshot. I expected the same from my right (the larger of the two), but found when I came to unzip it that it had already come unzipped of its own accord to about a third of the way down. I think this might be a sign that I need wider-fitting boots. I shall have to clean up the ones I have and sell them to (at least partially) finance this!

Finally… I really want one of these, although I’m disappointed that the the cover illustration isn’t the outline of a horse with a diagrammatic drawing of its skeleton inside it!

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4 responses

12 02 2013
mellchan

With our trotting powers combined….we would be perfect! It seems we did synchronized blogging:)
Does your school require you to wear tall boots or are you allowed to wear any suitable equestrian footwear?

12 02 2013
onahorse

Yes, I saw that! I read your post on my phone in bed before going to sleep for the night. Heh.

We’re allowed to wear any ‘suitable equestrian footwear’, although one of the other ladies in my group wears a pair of fashion boots that don’t even have a heel and no-one says anything to her, and I have observed people wearing light walking boots to ride in during the classes for the disabled. I just really like my long boots – mainly, I must confess, because they look badass! It was also in part because when I bought them I considered them to be long-term investment on the proviso I took care of them, so I could use them if and when I advanced to dressage and so forth.

I’ve spoken to another horsey friend recently who strongly advocates chaps and jodhpur boots as being significantly more comfortable than tall boots; I’m thinking this might be a good way to go. If not, there are affordable long boots I can buy that come in a calf size that will fit me. Such are the perils of wearing steel-toecapped workboots everywhere you go the rest of the time, I guess!…

15 02 2013
mellchan

You have inspired me to buy a pair of half chaps…let me know what you decide to get! By the way, I have been looking at a few online UK horse tack stores just for giggles…..much cuter stuff, in general, than we have here.

15 02 2013
onahorse

I did go for short boots and half-chaps in the end (both in black leather)… I’m actually pretty excited about getting them, they should be arriving in the post later on today!

It was a tough decision and in the end I had to ask a friend to make it for me, but it works out because buying short boots and chaps – even with postage – worked out cheaper than buying another pair of tall boots, and the chaps I have ordered will fit me at my current calf-width and have enough stretch in them to allow for a further inch of expansion. The boots look very smart, too.

I shall attempt to post pictures when I receive them!

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