Putting on our brave pants!

Hard to believe I have already had Paddy for six weeks! I’ve been getting him out and about the last couple of weeks, taking him to local training and riding club shows, and also got him out to meet the wonderful Sandra Blake Farrell!

Paddy was an absolute angel in all aspects on both times that I tried him before buying, however upon coming home with me he seemed to lose his confidence somewhat and get a bit unsettled – this has shown in a lack of confidence in hacking alone or entering a big arena from a warmup. Because he is so clever, I’ve been careful to stop this in its tracks (pardon the pun!) before it becomes a learned behaviour – and so I have been getting him out and about, teaching him forward is the only option, and letting him build trust in me as we go. This has proved successful – just a couple of weeks in and he now happily plods down to the end of our lane and back alone, will confidently move away from other horses in a busy arena, and will move up in front when out with others. It’s still taking some encouragement to get him to confidently go into the competition arena from the warmup, but he does go in and then we get this:

Popping around the Intermediate (90cm) course at the Foxborough Riding Club show, with plenty room to spare!

Popping around the Intermediate (90cm) course at the Foxborough Riding Club show, with plenty room to spare!

He is an absolute pleasure to jump, and clearly loves his job – I could honestly jump him all day! He gives the fences plenty of room and is very careful, something that really attracted me to him when trying him initially. We have gone to Barnadown Showjumping (both schooling and competing), and recently headed to a local Riding Club show and did our first Performance Hunter! Paddy was definitely overwhelmed by the big scary hay bales and rustic fences rather than the coloured ones he is used to, but he did a super round and cleared every fence! Not only has Paddy been putting his brave pants on, but I have too – I have always been a very nervous showjumper, and I’m grateful to him for building my jumping confidence back up.

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Giving our first Performance Hunter a go at a local Riding Club show!

On Sunday we popped out to see Sandra Blake Farrell, to see what she made of him! He was on his best behaviour, and we got some really good work out of him. In particular we focused on keeping him moving forward in a new environment, and encouraging him to seek the contact forward rather than dropping behind the vertical which he likes to do. My two key takeaways from our lesson with Sandra were:

  1. As Paddy is young, it’s OK to let him take a look at scary/interesting things as we ride in a new space, as long as he keeps going forward. It’s not necessary to try to keep the outline, let him have a look but always be thinking forward.
  2. When he drops behind the vertical, I need to send him forward but keep the contact consistent. If he doesn’t seek the contact in the trot, try an upward transition to canter to remind him to move forward into the contact, and then come back to trot and try again. Loved this one!

So a busy few weeks for me and Paddy – this weekend we have a lesson with Joanne Logue, and will be heading to another local show on what will hopefully be a sunny Bank Holiday Monday! Reports to follow!

Natalie xo

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