Back to Reality

12 09 2013

That’s not even your lot for this week! I still went riding on Monday evening as usual. I was just as eager for my lesson as any other Monday and looking forward to seeing the horses as much as on any other week, of course, but I went very aware that whatever we did in the lesson, it wouldn’t be quite the same as tilting against a quintain.

I arrived to find I had been assigned Symphony for a change. Symphony is a very capable horse, but one I am accustomed to hearing my regular instructor describe as a ‘bone idle’ one, so the lesson’s activities were something of a far cry from riding the excellently trained, highly-responsive stallions I’d sat astride on the weekend. She was in the lesson before mine, too, which won’t have helped with her motivation. As I mounted up, I told my instructor a bit about the riding I’d done at the weekend, and from my touching on that we got onto talking about the jousting tournaments at the Royal Armouries; apparently she enjoys them, too, and usually takes her children down to see them. We agreed that they were too short, and we wished they would sacrifice the stunt riding displays so there could be more jousting!

Anyway, in this lesson we worked more on bend, this time riding in circles that got smaller and smaller. For almost all of the lesson Symphony was extremely heavy on the head, and she resisted my asks, then softened, then just when I thought I’d got her listening to me would go and do something unexpected like slow to a walk very suddenly, and stop, ignoring my leg as I pushed her on. I managed to get her to soften as we worked an exercise on bend in trot, riding expanding and shrinking circles using cones as a guide, but about two thirds of the way through she decided she’d had enough and started actively fighting me. My instructor said I could go large if I wanted to work on bringing her back to me, but I was determined to keep at the exercise, and eventually we got back on it. I have to admit, however, that from having spent so long in the saddle a couple of days previously, the whole process made me ache.

As has become the format of our lessons, we finished with work in canter. Amazingly, this was where Symphony woke up, and on every attempt on both reins I got the strike off into canter – not always the first time I asked for it, but I didn’t make any laps of the school without getting the canter. I remember from riding Symphony previously that she has a really nice, smooth canter and a gentle strike off into it, but that you cannot afford to relax into it as she’ll only canter for a few strides before transitioning down to a trot and then to a walk if you don’t push her on. This time, I succeeded in pushing her on to maintain it for most of the way around the school, always losing it at the point where we were in sight of the back of the ride. The problem I had, if any, was relaxing my hands sufficiently for her to transition upwards from the trot, but since I was having to keep a firm contact with very short reins in the first place I think this is understandable, and less about any residual hang-ups I might have with cantering. I had the same issue with Dan the last time I rode him, another horse who needs short reins and a firm contact (albeit for different reasons); I’d like to try riding Duke again to see how much better my canter would be from start to finish on a less reluctant horse. Or even lovely Maddy.

Thinking it had been a long time since I’d seen her, this week I made the trip across to the other side of the yard to check in on Soapy after untacking Symphony and giving her back and shoulders a bit of a rub. She was attending to her bale of hay when I called out to her, and she regarded me with the kind of indignant disinterest one might expect of a cat who has been ignored by its owner, only looking over her shoulder briefly and giving me that, ‘Oh, it’s you’ look, not wandering over to the door for a fuss or even a quite nose-fist as she has done on previous occasions. I take this to mean I should go back to bothering her after my lessons more often!…

Not next week, though, as I am away in Cornwall visiting family. I shan’t be abstaining from riding completely during my week off, however, and I have booked myself in to do this as it’s not too far from where I will be based…




3 responses

12 09 2013
The Dancing Rider

I still am so impressed at what you did at Historic Equitation. As for this entry, I have to laugh, as I experience so much of what you right about! And I have no refined skills to apply really! Great that you will get to ride whilst visiting in Cornwall. 🙂

12 09 2013
Soapy Photo Girl

Heh, thanks! I mostly feel that way about my own riding, although I am now starting to feel like it’s all starting to come together and make sense, at long last.

As for riding down south… EXMOOR PONIES! 😀

13 09 2013

PONY! I bet it will feel really strange riding the little cuties – bet they’ll trot really fast 🙂 Best of luck

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