Today’s riding has been … wild. I can only assume that the sudden, hot weather has addled our brains, but absolutely nothing has gone to plan. However, one must always focus on the positive, however small.
Today, I had my daughter with me.
We set off, as usual, across the fields for some gentle walk-trot stuff for my daughter and, after suitable warm up, some pipe clearing cantering for me.
Within ten minutes, the first problem arose. The pony ridden by my daughter is, like most ponies, quite a character. This pony hasn’t been worked much over the last two weeks, due to injury, but was back in work and raring to go today. As we crossed a section of the cross country course, we came across a group of five or six riders who were taking part in an eventing clinic. Now, we skirted carefully around this group, but the sight of ‘new’ horsey friends was clearly too much for my daughter’s pony, who became rather restive. I suggested that we return to the school, to ensure we avoided any problems and we started on our way back. In the blink of an eye, Snowy, set off with my daughter at a fast canter back to the yard. To the child’s credit, she sat it like a pro, but this is clearly not desirable.
Having spent the last week learning the British Dressage Introduction A test, I planned to practise circles and then give it a run through. My husband had offered to video this, which I always find very useful. So, having duly practised said circles my daughter and our instructor parked themselves out of the way and I set off.
Now, in the past I’ve done loads of tests and I’ve never had any of them called, or had any problems. Until today. Half way through, I missed a transition and my mind went absolutely blank. Couldn’t have remembered the rest, if my life depended on it!
After some quick consultation, we decided that my instructor would call the test and my daughter and I would both ride it, with her following me. The general idea being that she would practise getting Snowy to move in different directions.
This time, trusty Tosca, who was clearly disappointed about having to come in, off the field, put in a sneaky couple of canter strides on one of the circles!
However, this was not the end of it. As we went down one of the long sides of the arena, Snowy cut inside and tried to canter. She only managed a couple of strides, but the sudden sideways movement resulted in my daughter falling off. Fortunately, she was fine, but this was not a pleasant experience for her.
Having laid down in a darkened room and reflected on today’s activities, my thoughts are, as follows (in no particular order):
Teaching children to perform ‘control’ aids on their ponies is absolutely essential. Brakes, direction and speed. Not just walk, trot, canter, jump.
My daughter and I have two completely different views on risk. She is not fazed by anything (climbing, abseiling, she’s there). However, I make the Health and Safety Executive look like a bunch of slackers. Somehow, I need to instil the importance of the above controls in to my child, without making it boring. Any ideas on this welcome!
Should the school have offered us Snowy, today? Perhaps, I didn’t ask enough questions.
The positives. Rode half a test, plus the practise circles. Struggled to get into the corners on the right rein (my bad side), but the circles were pretty good. Riding by feel is definitely improving.
Child still sat that wild canter, didn’t cry when she fell off and got straight back on.
That’s my girl.
[Editor’s Note. Wore my new Hows Racesafe body protector today and it’s absolutely brilliant. The flexible panels are great. Love it.]