After volunteering at Summerfield Stables on Wednesday we took the founder, wonderful Ros, and her great-god-daughter along to meet our three beasties. What a lovely time we had!
We all groomed and tacked up, introducing each horse to Ros who was very kind and enthusiastic about them all. This is why Summerfield is so lovely, because the founder (and her daughter George who now runs it) have this lovely ethos of sharing the joy of horses with others. Where some may see problems or unnecessary effort, Ros sees potential and an animal that deserves a kind home. She loved Skye (“good strong mare”) and noticed very quickly how attentive the horse is, how well our budding connection is going. Felt very gratified by that. Skye even did perfectly for picking her feet out, with Ros at front to hold and entertain her (more than can be said for the following day, when she really wanted to plant those forefeet and it took us a while to get them picked).
We all three went up to the dressage field for a play and so that Ros and the kid could see what we were each working on. And ultimately, although we’re all at different stages and approaching it in different ways, we’re all working on the same thing. Self-carriage. We are each trying to encourage healthy movement (or at the very least, trust, confidence, and mental relaxation) in our horses.
Skye was very stimulated by the rich rye and clover in that field, so we didn’t have as much concentration as usual, but she was still great.
The kid then rode one of the ponies and we all went into the jumping field. I was just in-hand grazing Skye and chatting, but I did lead her over some ground poles and between jump wings. I realised I hadn’t done that, in that field, since the first week I’d tried it to test the waters. What a difference. She was willing with a little coaxing even in that first week and I imagine, to the outside, it wouldn’t have looked much different. She still looked at them and hesitated when doing it this week. But the feeling I got from her was wildly different. Much more confident. Much more prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt.
Yesterday, again after volunteering, a couple of us went down and had a walking hack (Skye in-hand) for about an hour. So I’m shattered today, but in a satisfied and happy way.
Things of note:
- She went through the bollards without hesitation (this is only the second time we’ve tackled them). She’s a quick learner.
- Slower and less sure at first, think because it was with different horses (her favourite, Monty the cob, wasn’t with us).
- Loved the bridleway, once again, and we’re wondering if it’s because it’s softer going? She doesn’t seem footsore, but she is still only a couple of months back into roadwork and her posture/fitness still needs a lot of work, so perhaps her joints or feet feel the road more than the mud of the bridleway. Or perhaps she just finds it more inviting.
- Once again, after the bridleway she had more confidence. Our hesitant walk changed into that lovely, “we’re going somewhere with purpose!” walk, so we both got a good little bit of exercise.
- She shied a couple of times, doing her splayed leg thing much to the girls’ amusement, and I reflected again that one would probably be safer on her back than beside her. My poor toes were at risk a couple of times!
- We even had a tiny bit of trot. It was more of a jog, but… her neck stayed forward, down, and out! A nice horizontal balance. So that’s promising.
- Oh, and after I felt that her back looked a bit flatter and up for the exercise. Truly, never underestimate the power of purposeful walking and just getting the miles in.