It had been a while since I last had a lesson. Life had got in the way a bit but I also had nearly a month of completing avoiding the school and just hacking out and cantering in straight lines! I’d been feeling really rubbish about my riding since I’d been trying to dip back into the school. I felt like I’d forgotten what I was doing, then it didn’t feel good, then I did’t want to do it because I didn’t want to do it wrong! With a competition looming in the first week of September it was definitely time for a lesson which is what we did on Saturday!
Luckily my instructor is fab, I explained to her what we’d been up to for the last couple of months (or rather what we HAVEN’T been up to) and we got going. After a pretty hollow warm up she got me walking 10m circles then leg yielding out to get Pea around my inside leg. Then we progressed to 20m circles – my instructor’s top tip is to think of the circle as a diamond, ride each “corner” with bend, then ride to the next one – try it, it works! We definitely find it easier on the right rein than the left as Pea is a bit stiffer to the left and my left leg is rubbish as an inside leg! Pea sometimes dips her head a bit low in the trot if she’s not going forwards enough so we worked on getting her more forwards and more in the right place!
We did a bit of work on my transitions, Pea often needs a bit of a wake up in her walk so that she springs into trot when asked but also needs to be kept together so that she doesn’t try to do a cheeky walk to canter!
Then it was time for some canter work and I’m pleased to say that my instructor was really impressed with how much more balanced Pea was, all that cantering out must have done something! I could definitely feel the difference between the old, long, flat canter that she used to have and the bouncier canter she showed me. She felt a lot more underneath me! My instructor got me to keep the contact in canter (I have a tendency to chuck the reins in the hope she will just keep going) because, although Pea doesn’t stay round in canter, it keeps her balanced. She also suggested I use a flick of my schooling whip when I could feel her wanting to break rather than my leg because the leg makes her go faster and faster isn’t the aim! I tried to be clever with this as a mistimed flick has, on occasion, resulted in a kick or a buck. We survived only one small one on this occasion!
After that, it was time to have a go at the test. My instructor explained that we are now at the stage where I really need to be thinking about putting on more of a show, showing off where we are at, rather than just riding through the movements. I’ve broken down all the things I can remember that I need to think about!
Trot – Use my corners and bend through them (particularly when turning onto the centre line)
Walk – Make sure the walk is forward enough that it is ready to pop into trot at any time
Free walk – Once I’m on the right line, immediately get rid of the reins but keep the walk marching
Canter – Keep the contact in canter, use my stick to keep her going then if we get the wrong lead, stay calm and keep trying again
Halt – Keep my legs wrapped around her and think “walk.. halt” when halting
Wish me luck for Wednesday!