Or maybe a week, but all the same! Following a far more chilled schooling session on Thursday, we have had an overall successful weekend.
Yesterday I set out to get Rio in and do some in hand work as we had ridden already on Boxing Day, and despite the glorious weather and the obvious pull to ride, I stuck to my guns and brought him up for a fuss and cuddle before we headed to the indoor school. We started with some in hand work and I kept hold of the lead rope keeping it hanging between us with no tension, before I let him loose. Helpfully there were some cones set out down the centre of the school so we worked on walking in and out of these, which he was very good at. When we moved on to trying another free lunging session, to say I was pleased is an understatement. We had a few stops whilst he was busy napping to the gate for a nosey look at what was going on, but other than that, he picked up a beautiful trot, and we even managed a planned change of rein (he's good at changing rein on his own, I just need to get a handle on getting him to change when I want!) I was so proud. We finished off with a join up, and once he joined up with me, we even managed a couple of steps backwards without me touching him. It is literally these small steps that make me so happy I decided to jump in with both feet and get him!
Today was very frosty when I got to the yard, the ground was solid, and I had started to wish I had ridden yesterday so I could have taken him in the school today. However, by the time I had poo picked, broken icy water buckets up and checked on my friend's pony whilst she's away, the sun was shining and the sky was a glorious blue. There was barely a cloud in the sky!
I brought Rio up with minimal arguments at the gate - we have started trying something a bit different to get him out, walking lots of circles inside the field, and figures of eight, to take his mind off the gateway itself. Today he only spooked once before I managed to get him to walk through, which was an improvement on yesterday which took 3 attempts then I cleverly decided to make him do it again which warranted another 3 tries! My aim is to try and desensitise him to the gate, and make him so bored of walking back and forth that he will just go through... Here's hoping!
We had a lovely ride out around the village, and boy am I glad that I didn't get him clipped when I was considering it a few weeks ago. He was getting very sweaty doing very little, but the more I work with him, the more I think it was stress related. We did almost 5km in 45 minutes, mainly walking with a very small trot towards the end. I wanted to try and give him a little trot and canter on the field on the way back home but by that point, my ankles were well and truly set and we had to forgo the upward transitions! Since my tumble last weekend, I had my first ride where I was not having to tell myself to keep my heels down, and boy did that hurt. Not only did I call a stop to any trotting and cantering but had to get Rio to stand for a moment whilst I stretched my ankles out before I could dismount. He kindly obliged, which again called for much cuddling - he's learning!
Back to work tomorrow... Bring on Wednesday for New Year's Day when I can spend more time at the yard :)
Ride safe x