Pony pony pooonyy

17 06 2013

I couldn’t decide what to call this entry. I was tempted by ‘Putting the Hay into Hayfever’, since I got home this evening with it so bad that it was hurting me to keep my eyes open, but after a shower and a little patience it eased off. I had already taken antihistamines beforehand.

But yes, I went riding as usual, and I felt normal doing so. At least, the parts of me that landed me in hospital last weekend did. I feel a bit like my knee and hip joints have been forcibly realigned, but I take that as a sign that I’m doing something right. Heh. Therefore, my previous exercise regimen of a run around the Armouries followed by 20 minutes of Pilates will resume from tomorrow.

As for riding itself, I had little Chilli today, the chestnut newcomer of my previous lesson. He was in the children’s group lesson prior to ours, so while I was waiting for that to finish I went to look at the paddock properly, which I’d never done before. It’s not especially large, but it was nice to see the horses out grazing as a herd for a change. They certainly looked happy.

There were only two of us in the lesson this evening, and the newest member of the group had Soapy again. She led her out, and we hung out with her for a bit while we waited to be allowed in the arena. Soapy recognised me, and brofisted me the way she usually does. I was flattered by the way she seemed to disconnect from the lady who’d led her out and fix on me when I put my hand out to her. As usual, she didn’t frisk me or anything, just stuck her head out to investigate me with her ears pricked forwards, doing that slightly cat-like thing of inclining her neck for a fuss. Then she crunched on something in her mouth and I caught the scent of mint; the lady said she’d given her some Polos, and would feed her more if she was good in the lesson. After my experiences with hand-feeding horses over the last year have led me to become almost evangelical in my stance against it, I was seized by the urge to raise my voice and say, ‘Don’t you ruin my horse!’ (she’s not really my horse, of course, but you know…), but I was too much of a pussy to actually say anything. Hah. I just hope that getting that sort of treatment from someone else she regularly sees at the same time as me doesn’t affect the lovely, friendly-but-polite manner in which she’s hitherto always behaved towards me.

Lapping up the attention from her adoring fans.

Lapping up the attention from her adoring fans.

 

I don't know who this friendly fellow was, but he certainly enjoyed a fuss.

I don’t know who this friendly fellow was, but he certainly enjoyed a fuss.

 

When I went in to take Chilli from the girl who’d ridden him before me, she tried to tell me something about him but I didn’t understand what she said. He was quite determined that he was going back to his stall for the night, and tried to just walk through me! I stood my ground and pushed into him, and eventually he stopped. I had to lead him around in a circle to get him back on the centre line in a sensible orientation to mount him.

That one lesson we did on bend a fortnight ago has done so much for me. Chilli proved to be quite forward-going and obliging, but quite keen to take the shortest route around the school. Actually, I thought that if I’d given him a long rein and minimal aids he’d have been content to have walked a 20m circle around the centre of the arena; willing to move, but with as little effort as possible. Knowing how to push through the hips and use the seat bones made a world of difference; I felt like I was working with him, asking and not trying to fight against what he wanted to do. We did some trotting with and without stirrups, as usual; I think something’s clicked and I’ve worked out how I’m supposed to move to sit the trot without bouncing on the horse’s back. It’s certainly a good abs workout!

Then, to demonstrate to us that posting in trot is about pushing from the hips and not off from the feet, we attempted rising trot without stirrups. A year ago I’d have said that was impossible. It’s bloody weird, I’ll give it that, and that you get to rise at all from it – even just under an inch out of the saddle – feels like sheer black magic. But I did it. And it felt weird (and really worked my gluteals. Heh).

Finally, canter. We were doing all of this work to help us move with the canter once we’d got it going, so that we can become better able to keep it going. Only, Chilli didn’t initially want to canter. I’ll admit that on the first couple of goes, I was a bit hesitant because I didn’t know what his canter was going to be like, but after a couple of false starts in which he tried to get away with just going into a really fast trot, he stopped and emptied his bladder spectacularly. The instructor said that might have been the reason for his reluctance, and suggested I try again. Same again. This time he stopped to open his bowels, and that was quite spectacular, too. I managed to get him to transition to canter a couple of times after that – once on each rein – but there had been enough faffing and false starts by then that there was no time left to do any work actually in the canter by that stage. The wee fellow had a funny way of transitioning; he seemed to want to hurtle into it, like he had to concentrate really hard on switching gaits. Once he did, he was as bone-shaking as Bramble, but I was just pleased to have made the transition – and I think I might actually have gone, ‘Wheeee!’ when it finally happened. Heh.

As usual, I led him out to untack him in his stall, before he will have been given a bucket of feed and taken out to the paddock for the night. He had so much loose hair just coming off him as I removed his saddle – his winter coat coming off. Once we were back in his stall, he became really cute and affectionate. I led him in so he’d wind up facing his hay net, but he was far more interested in gently resting his head on me. I gave his neck and his forehead a rub and tried to take his bridle off him. I said out loud to him that it was lovely that he was so cuddly, but it would be much nicer for him if he let me get that nasty bit out of his mouth. He just wanted attention, bless him, and looked disappointed when I exited his stall. Awww.

Chilli, moving too fast to be photographed. Heh.

Chilli, moving too fast to be photographed. Heh.

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3 responses

18 06 2013
Sparrowgrass

Glad to hear you’re back in the saddle 🙂

24 06 2013
mellchan

Yay for getting better! Lessons always teach you something even if you don’t do what you planned on. I think its really nice that you get so much exposure to different horsey personalities. 🙂

25 06 2013
Soapy Photo Girl

Me too! There is very definitely a stark contrast between the sort of school where the animals are loved and well cared-for and the sort where they’re all a bit overworked and braindead, and as someone who came to horse riding from a love of the animals themselves I can’t quite grasp the notion of seeing a horse as a piece of sports equipment rather than a creature with feelings. That’s possibly more than half the fun for me!

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