Extraordinary! That is the only word I can think of to describe today. And for a multiple of reasons.
I chose to ride my tall white friend again today. We'd had a productive ride yesterday and so I intended on making sure today was as fun and as progressive. I learnt a lot, lets just say that.
I helped to brush him as he munched happily on his hay and put his bridle on while the other girl who was helping put on his saddle. I'd managed to get it on but someone hadn't untied the nose band and so the bridle was in a pickle. [note to self, always check tack before attempting to put on horse in case someone forgets to untie the nose band of your horse's bridle].
I mounted and gave him a nice pat as we headed toward the road route. I felt strangely wobbly in the saddle today. Not sure if my immense stomach exercises I've been doing all week, and have made my abs feel like they're on fire had something to do with it. So I took a deep breath, composed myself and concentrated on being central. It's a part of Pilates, I've read and also a part of my old memories from my dancing days. Central balance helps with a lot of things and by my third trot it had helped.
My first few trots, I just couldn't seem to keep him going. My thighs were not helping pushing up from the saddle but again, this improved by the last two trots and they were beautiful and rhythmic and forward.
I had a walker with me today as it was a fairly sized group and we were on the road and in lead so it makes sense, first and foremost safety wise and also I had no one to follow.
The first cantering ground and my first attempts were pretty rubbish. This was OK. I've been away from this horse for a while and had forgotten how much he needs from me to get him to move. My wobbliness and lack of boom was not helping. But my position and feel of control was good so I was not at all dismayed. It just made what happened later so much more beautiful!
As we were walking along a path, and coming to the end of it, by a grassy area, a dog ran around a corner and stopped dead in front of my lovely, tall, white, friend who then proceeded to stop dead. The sudden stop made me fall forward a little but I stayed in my seat and instantly reached a hand forward to comfort my lovely friend and reassure him. I didn't know what had frightened him, but I felt his fear, if that is possible through my position on his back. That was before even the girl walking with us said a word as the dog had startled all the girls on the ride too. I was so proud of my friend because when I asked him to walk on, he did, even though he still felt a little tense. The worst thing was, the dog walker didn't even apologise as the dog was off lead which I do believe, in a public place is actually illegal in the UK. This was my first official spook to such a degree. I'm so relieved he wasn't too frightened by the dog and the dog didn't seem to be vicious which is always my fear whether on horseback or when I'm out with my own guide dog. He was a brave boy and stayed where he was until we said it was OK and he could carry on.
After a lovely further trot where we were forward and consistent, we headed toward the back lane for a canter.
The girl instructing us told the girl who was walking with me to let me go off and canter down the back lane by myself. I wasn't sure I'd get a canter but pushed on good with my seat and gave him a big squeeze. I'm noticing more, what aids different horses respond to best. He responds to the leg but responds better and more efficiently to the seat too. And we moved into a smooth, forward, rhythmic canter. I kept thinking, "Don't pull back on your hands! Don't tense, keep moving with him. Go with him. Heels down! Elbows in!" And it worked!!!!!! I had the most seated canter and beautiful rhythm with him. I know I've probably said I felt with one before with a horse and I'm not saying that again because this time it was even better. I'm so pleased we ended on such a high! And it wasn't three or four strides, it was a good length of a canter. Then we smoothed to a trot and then a walk with my instruction. He's never had so much praise from me and a huge, huge, hug!!!!!
Once we arrived at the yard again, I dismounted and lead him into his stable and took off his bridle! He got a fair helping of polos and a huge cuddle from me. I felt today was not a regular ride but I felt we were on a much deeper journey than just a regular ride. That possibly sounds silly but I felt it.
So, until next time, again too far away, I'll leave you with this thought, I continually see a glimpse of something magical when I'm with horses. Bravery, kindness, and today, I felt his fear. It wasn't a silly old plastic bag or a funny looking bush, today, it shocked him and made him grind to a halt and this horse is usually really level headed. But he was happy to take reassurance from us and didn't act crazy, just stood there, waiting for reassurance. And I helped deliver that through my position on his back and my friendly words and pats.
Thanks for reading,