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Natalie Povey February blog
Blog for February & March 2016
This month has been a learning curve for both of us. Up to now I have ridden Elton with two short whips which I have carried on his shoulders but as I am asking more of Elton I decided to try two longer schooling whips. I always carry two whips so that I am able to give even aids as they are used as a back up my aids when needed to follow up my voice and seat aids. When we first bought Elton he objected to longer schooling whips by running off hence why I have carried shorter whips up till now. Elton was much more mature about me carrying the longer whips, firstly carrying one and then carrying both of them, he took to them like a pro although we did have a little protest with a few hairy moments when he bucked being cheeky when I tickled him with the whip. He seems to be getting better with them, but things like these take time as he needs to learn to understand that they are my forward aid and are only there to back up my voice and seat when needed.
Our main focus this month has been our straightness and suppleness, which has improved greatly from my blog last month and he is improving even more daily. We had been finding both quite challenging due to me not being able to use my legs, so I have been practising using my weight to achieve the results as well as riding him with two whips which sort of back up my voice commands when needed.
Our straightness had been mainly an issue when we are working a couple of metres off the outside track as Elton likes to fall back to the fence and as I am unable to support him with my legs I have had to try to teach him to go off my rein aids as well as my weight which is very difficult due to my disability making me uneven – so its a challenge for both of us. So I have been using serpentines across the school to practice our straightness so at first we didn’t have to tackle a whole 60m of the school wobbling around and I have gradually increased this so we can almost walk and trot the full 60m of the school with the exception of an odd wobbly moments. Elton is still only young so it is all a learning curve for him but we have taken a huge step forward in the last two months.
Helen, the lovely owner of the livery yard where I am based has been helping me with Elton’s schooling and has been working on this as well and as it is improving for Helen it is getting easier for Elton and I as he has more of an understanding of what I am asking.
We have also been working on Elton’s suppleness as he carries himself in a lovely outline but could be a little heavy and set in the hand so we gradually introduced gentle flexion which Elton now finds quite easy and now that he understands what he needs to do it has resulted in a much softer and relaxed outline.
Now the nights are getting lighter I have started hacking him along the off road track at our livery yard which gives him a break from working in the school without having to hack on the busy roads, which he enjoys.
Blog for March 2016
This month my focus has been developing Elton’s straightness when riding movements, and keeping the impulsion on turns and corners. I have also been working on developing his trot towards a medium trot when asked, I have done this by doing lots of ‘on and back’ transitions when working large and across the diagonals so that he isn’t expected to keep his balance in a bigger trot over a long distance, we have gradually progressed to nearly keeping the medium trot for nearly the whole of the long diagonal and now he gets the idea of lengthening my next step will be working on the transition back from medium trot to working trot so we achieve a softer transition. I have also been working hard perfecting Elton’s freewalk encouraging him to stretch as much as possible whilst staying straight, at first he found the idea quite difficult to walk on a long rein and keep the impulsion of the walk but he is getting there.
This month has also been a month for decisions about our future together, for personal reasons I have decided to find Elton a new home and downsize to a 14.2-15.1hh pony with horse like paces as I feel it would be a much more suitable size with me only being small as I struggle with hip pain riding Elton and would be much easier for me to get on and off. I am both heartbroken that it hasn’t worked with Elton but on the other hand excited for the future – exciting times ahead.