Similar to August, this month has been very slow in terms of progression as I have only been riding in walk, which has been extremely frustrating in the sense that everything feels like it’s all falling apart after how amazing he was going back in July, which ultimately leads to questioning whether we will ever get back to that stage.
I feel that it’s been really important this month to find as many positives in as much as you can, otherwise you just become so disheartened with things that are not running smoothly, making you over analyse and find even more fault with it all, so for that reason, I’ve decided to focus on the ‘bigger picture’ and the process.
When you first buy a new horse, you always anticipate teething problems for the first few months, until you get to know them, and find out what does and doesn’t work. It’s so difficult having to adjust to how forward thinking, and how sensitive he is, when I have always been used to driving lazy horses forward, and frustrating to be working so slowly, while Leonie is working on the schooling side of things.
Thinking about it in more detail, although we’ve only been riding in walk, I have learned lots, like refining my aids, and working on my half halts, as I’ve always had to push for forwardness with most horses I’ve ever ridden, Alfie on the other hand sometimes gets a bit carried away, so it’s been good for me to play with adjusting the tempo within a more controlled pace.
Whilst we’ve just focused on the walk, we have also been looking at my accuracy in some of movements in my tests, which has really highlighted how differently my brain processes things when you really break it down. For example, when we were working on the 8 meter circles, Leonie and I decided to use poles to enable me to see clearly where the turning points are if i’m changing rein within the circles to ensure I hit centre line each time.
Due to the fact I had to perform the movements away from the track unlike normal, I surprisingly found it extremely difficult to comprehend how big or small the circles needed to be, seeing as my spaicial awareness is one of the things that is compromised from my disability, so it took a fair few tries to get it right, as I tend to go off feel more than how something looks.
When I’ve been told it’s right, I can generally save that feeling in my head so I can continue doing it correctly, so it was interesting for Leonie and I to look at different techniques we can use to make sure I can process things in the best way I can, which isn’t necessarily something we can look at if we are training for something in particular, as we have to focus on the horses way of going more so than exploring new learning and teaching techniques.
So actually, after reading what I’ve just wrote back to myself, our progress hasn’t been non existant as I initially thought! It could be argued, that although I’m working at a much slower pace, It’s really developing my understanding and knowledge on the fundamentals, which will ultimately enable us to develop further when this dificult patch has passed.
As I’ve been told many times before, success is far from easy! You have to face obstacles, which test your resilience, and how much you want to achieve what you set out to do in the first place. Nothing ever runs smoothly, and it’s how you choose to react to the situation that determine’s how you come out the other side when faced with difficulty, and I’m sure in a couple of months, I’ll look on this time as a drop in the ocean, and reflect on how much it’s taught me on a personal, and a ridden level, and look forward to the next challenge my team and I are set to face!