Things have been fairly quiet here on the blogging front of late, mostly because of how busy I have been in ‘real life’ – being an adult is tough. After the Dublin Horse Show, I took a brief hiatus from riding – between a hectic work schedule, having some family home from abroad, and box rest for Paddy after pulling a muscle in the field, I ended up not riding very much for close to three weeks.
But now, I am back and in ‘bootcamp mode’. My work schedule has lightened considerably, Paddy is sound and in super form (thanks to our wonderful physio Emma Moran), and I have a full month before I go on my holidays (two weeks in Tenerife, yay!) to kick both of our rears into gear. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
The time came to accept that my Kent & Masters GP saddle was just not helping me to be an effective rider – while it was an extremely comfortable saddle, and adjustable to fit any size horse, it wasn’t allowing me to get my leg on Paddy, and was tipping me forward slightly. I sold it to someone looking for a saddle for their daughter that would give her maximum security in the saddle, which is exactly the job it’s designed to do, so there really is a saddle out there for everyone! The saddle for me and Paddy, however, proved to be very difficult to find – after almost a month of searching, fifteen saddles, and an eight hour round trip, we finally found the one, and I LOVE IT. It’s pretty delicious, and my adventure deserves its own blog post – stay tuned for this one.
That Bloody Canter
I have recognised the need to work on Paddy’s canter – as the fences get bigger, it’s not enough to allow him to trundle around on his forehand. I need him to ‘sit’ so he has power to push himself over the fence, I need a consistent rhythm so there’s not so much pushing/kicking/pulling before the fence, but if it all goes t**s up then I need to be able to adjust the canter so we hit a good spot and make it safely over the fence. So I have become obsessed with the canter. Every single session I am working on our canter in some way:
- The transitions into it – crisp, smooth, and IMMEDIATE. Loads of transitions from trot-canter and walk-canter here.
- The transitions within it – can I move him up and back within the pace? Lots of work playing with the canter on the long and short sides here; moving him up on the long sides and back on the short sides. Next step will be to start doing this on a circle when he is strong enough.
- The rhythm – using canter poles to make sure we’re hitting the right spot over the pole(s) every time. I have been obsessive about this – I want it to feel like the canter pole isn’t even under me, it’s just another canter stride. The video below shows a little snippet of a recent schooling session where we worked on this:
Life’s a Beach
Paddy took his first trip to the beach! He was a gem. One of the girls took her own youngster who was a star and gave him a lead into the water, and he just loved it – no fear of the water and had loads of fun splashing around in the waves. He was terrified of the algae, couldn’t comprehend how it kept moving with the waves. Really pleased with his attitude, and delighted that he took to it like a… duck to water?
I suffer from mild sciatica, and it’s been really affecting my riding lately – I have found I’m unable to get my right shoulder back, or put enough weight into my right heel to keep my leg down. So I’m uneven in the saddle and this has transferred to Paddy’s way of going. I’ve been seeing an Osteopath to get me realigned (turns out I’m a crock, I believe that is the scientific term), and will start seeing a Physio soon to strengthen my muscles to help me prevent this happening in future. I also have started doing Pilates three times a week to strengthen my core, and I’m really feeling the difference in my riding from just a month of doing this (see above video for much improved position!).
So a busy few weeks just gone, and a jam-packed few weeks ahead! Paddy has his first XC schooling session coming up next week (eek! will he make an Eventer?!), and we are also heading out to our first SJI show together! I’ve made a promise to myself to write more over the next few weeks before I head off on holidays, so stay tuned to see what we get up to!