Galahad and I have recently received permission to use a small indoor school just up the road from us. It’s not a full size arena but it is certainly big enough to do a little schooling.
The main reason I hoped to use it was so that we can still school even in the depths of winter – the fields are lovely but just a bit too slippery when it has been raining for weeks on end. Of course, that isn’t an issue right now but I was too excited to wait until winter to try it out. Besides, it is good for Galahad to explore new places.
We had a lovely hack up the road, met the chickens and ventured into the school. Galahad was slightly disturbed by the exercise ball – he’s never seen anything like it before – but was otherwise pretty unfazed. No silly spooking or anything – he has come a long way!
He did actually spook once but as that was when a chicken flew up onto the wall behind him I think it was forgivable.
We had a good session in the school and then another lovely hack home again. This is going to be a great addition to my riding.
Yesterday I went to have a lesson on a mechanical horse.
The riding club have organised several of these days but I have never before managed to get there so I was very excited to finally be able to have a go. I was more than a little nervous as well though as I really didn’t know what to expect.
I honestly do not know what I’m doing with my hands here. I can only assume I am describing something but I cannot remember what!
This particular mechanical horse is people powered so it is the rider using their weight correctly which makes the horse move in different gaits. It’s incredibly clever and means that if you do something wrong you can really feel it because the horse stops what it should be doing. At one point I was trying to get the horse to canter and instead managed to make it buck!
It was such a fun experience and extremely interesting too. I learnt a lot about how to use my body more effectively in the saddle and got some useful pointers about my feet too – they always want to turn out! Being sat on a mechanical horse rather than a real one means you can concentrate properly on how your body is working rather than on what the horse might be doing. I woud definitely recommend the experience if you get the chance.
Now I know how it should feel when I’m using it correctly – all I need to do is put it into practice when I’m riding the ponies!
On Thursday Galahad and I had a fantastic lesson.
The eagle eyed among you may spot that these photographs were not taken during the actual lesson. I didn’t have a tame photographer there so we had to recreate the scene afterwards!
We started off with flatwork and spent some time doing work without stirrups. Galahad hasn’t really done much of that before and he definitely hasn’t done the exercises that go with it. They can be a bit scary for a nervous pony like him so I wasn’t quite sure how he would react but he was as good as gold. It may be time for me to stop assuming that everything will scare him because most of the time that isn’t true anymore. In fact, when I think he will react badly I know I make it more likely – I tense up and that definitely affects him badly.
We then moved on to some jumping. Specifically – gridwork. Galahad hasn’t even done a single bounce fence before, let alone a line of fences. More than that, we started off without reins which was another new thing for him (and something I haven’t done for years).
Galahad just pinged through them like a pro. He never fails to amaze me and once again I was so proud of him. I feel like I say that a lot but it is true!
On Saturday I rode Galahad for the first time in almost three weeks. It was so good to be back in the saddle! It has been very strange at home without the ponies – I get home from work and there is no need to go outside. Really odd.
Galahad and I had a fairly short lesson (I am still not quite 100%) but I was pleasantly surprised with how we did. Galahad was nice and calm and even when I couldn’t stop coughing he didn’t really react. One of my main concerns had been that he would spook at the coughing and I would not be able to control him so I was very pleased!
We even managed a little jumping which I was not expecting to be able to do quite so soon. We had three small fences lined up across the arena and jumped them in a figure of eight pattern. I was thrilled with Galahad during this exercise – he was very responsive and didn’t put a foot wrong. I on the other hand started coughing a bit more at this point and my legs were running out of energy – I struggled a bit to keep him going forward. As I said – still not 100%!
I was so glad to be back in the saddle and I am very much looking forward to getting back to full fitness.