Tuesday, 19 April 2016

[Lesson Report] Rather Unplanned!

I set out today with the plan that I was going to get on Pea, handle any of his naughtiness, but hopefully have a half decent schooling session. Unfortunately, as often is the case with horses, Pea didn't seem to be on board with that idea and instead spent five minutes stomping, reversing and nothing was working in an attempt to get him to go forward. I had just dismounted and on my way to grab my lunge line when an instructor popped in with lunging equipment, asking if I wanted a hand. I accepted and I popped him on the lunge to check there wasn't anything physically wrong and to get him moving.

I went to swap reins and Claire stepped in and asked if I minded if she had a go lunging the other way. I passed the line along and she mentioned that it seems like he's not really moving forward enough, just at a mediocre speed and hence it may be why he plays up a bit. She got him to really get going forward and really bring his hind leg under which is something he often avoids. She got Pea to really move forward and flicked the whip every time he started to back off and slow down. It wasn;t long before he was really moving forward and with little encouragement (it was trying to stop that took the longest!). 

I then popped back on board and Claire walked at the side with the lunge whip trailing behind her. She noticed that I often keep my leg on, without really noticing, and so to relax and take my leg away, only giving a squeeze with each heel every now and then in order to get the desired effect of him taking note and picking up the pace a bit. We walked round with a long rein and let him walk wherever he wanted and if he wanted to change rein, then to act as though it was something I wanted rather than try to keep him straight. By doing this, it means that he's normally expecting me to tell him 'no, we're going straight' which causes an excuse to stop, but acting like it was part of the plan takes this away. 

We then progressed into trot, still keeping with a long rein and relaxed body position. Again, I didn't direct Pea in a certain direction and let him go round the arena as he pleased. Typically, he went down to the far end of the arena, away from Claire and I could feel him start to tense to stop. Immediately, Claire shouted to just relax, squeeze a bit with the leg but not make a fuss. By doing this, Pea realised there was no need to misbehave as I hadn't tensed and so carried on quite nicely. Each time he slowed a bit, I popped my leg on and if he didn't respond properly, Claire was there to gently flick the lunge whip as a reminder that he had to pay attention rather than just ignore me which is his usual response. 

We even had a short canter, although not asked for, when Pea didn't quite respond properly and had the lunge whip slightly flick him. This made him take notice and so moved up to canter. My initial reaction was to grab the reins and tense slightly but Claire said to just pat him and relax - something I find rather hard with canter! I explained my reaction as to the fact that he often chucks me off in canter by launching off but she explained how it's harder for them to buck when they're actively moving forward and if they do, it's a fly buck which is slightly easier to sit to but not something Pea is likely to do when he's a lazier horse! I agreed and said he does tend to slam the brakes on to buck! 

So whilst it was an unexpected lesson for me and Pea, I'm really grateful for Claire popping over as I feel as though I may have had a mini meltdown otherwise! She was really nice and did the lesson for free (I've never had her for a lesson before!) and I think I may be in touch with her again to book a proper one! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

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