I couldn't believe the wind was trying to make a comeback when I woke up on Saturday morning. All the same I dutifully trooped to the field and retrieved Rio so that we could go for an adventure to the arena around the corner from our yard. I've been intending to take him there for a few weeks now to see how he dealt with a new environment. Luckily I had little expectation, and we spent a little over half an hour walking around in circles, zig zags, around jumps, trying to get the hang of using an inside bend with inside leg to keep his mind on me and not on the scary signs... It was certainly interesting.
One of my friends had come over with me, so we walked around with her for a while after he had a rather sudden spook across the school! It was almost the same scenario as when I took my tumble, but luckily I managed to just about hang on - relieved I opted for a neck strap! Another friend who is our yard aficionado, and a wonderful rider came over to see how it went too. I was glad of the focus she gave me. Instead of worrying about what he was looking at, we worked with the scary jumps, and he did begin to calm by the end of the session.
I worked a little on my leg position and trying to get inside bend walking around the jumps in circles, and experienced the very uncomfortable position that I should be assuming when training him to leg yield and move over from my leg. Ouch. We will have to see how that goes as my knee has definitely been feeling rather painful since the increase in riding workload... There will be more trips to come to the arena to see if we can get him settled enough to have a productive schooling session, but overall I was pleased. It was the first time I've really experienced him being properly scared of something!
On Sunday, I arrived at the yard just as everyone was tacking up for a hack out around the village so we joined the big boys again for a troop out. We had a lovely ride, and came back via the field where it sounded a fun idea to have a canter and see if Rio could keep pace. We took up lead, and Rio decided that he was going to drop back into trot! After that, one of the big boys took over and he soon picked up canter again, before realising that he was getting left in the dust - the immense power that I could feel from behind was an amazing feeling, and we had what must have been close to a flat out gallop for my little dude. My tracker notched a cool 18.3mph maximum speed. Yes, he's no racer, but he's only got little legs!
It was the first time I've experienced him get so excitable, and though I managed to bring him back down to walk after a few more strides of sitting in than usual, he certainly wasn't so keen on walking the rest of the way back. It was very wiggly, but makes me hopeful that we will be able to stick to the french link snaffle he has at the moment. I really don't want to have to play around with stronger bits if I can help it. Then we got to try and be a stopper as the two other big boys got very excitable too - one of my friend's came haring past and all I heard was "I've got no stirruuuups!!" and the other came past and had to turn three circles to stop. Needless to say, we didn't have much sway in stopping either of them. To give him his due, Rio stood like a rock and I was very proud that he was one of the two young ones and they BOTH behaved so well.
Grazing after bath time (only a couple of hours...)
After all of that excitement, it was bath time. Rio's first bath since I got him. No matter how much I scrubbed the stains, there are some that just won't come out. We had fairy liquid, shampoo, and a mixture of both, and still couldn't get rid of them. Blue shampoo, and touch of silver shampoo have been recommended, so they will be tried next time. Although it has to be said, I saw another friend at the yard this evening who didn't know he was bathed yesterday, and she did comment that he looked lovely and bright. I think by the end of the bath I was feeling a little disheartened, so it was nice to know he did actually look a bit cleaner!
OH! I almost forgot, Rio had his first chip yesterday... A McDonalds chip. Or 4. It really worked in my favour in the end, as when I went to worm him he thought the syringe was a chip and clamped his teeth around it. Much easier than the last one. Bless him!
Ride safe x