I have come to learn that Pippsway is actually the horses way. Everything Pip teaches us to do is driven by the horse and his needs. I had the privilege of watching Pip teach another client today. My very last experience at a different yard ended with me seeing a lesson that was the final straw in my decision to look elsewhere. A young girl was being encouraged to whip her pony because he wouldn’t transition into canter. Never mind that the girl didn’t look like she was ready mentally, her posture was terrible, she was completely unbalanced, her legs were all over the place and her arms were up in the air. Instead of correcting the girls riding the instructor told her to flick the pony with the whip to get him to canter. This made no sense to me! I walked away that day knowing I would never return. The lesson I saw today was in stark contrast….
Pip began by ensuring the rider was in the correct position with her pelvis and legs relaxed allowing the horses back to move freely beneath her. She explained why this was necessary, talked about the mechanics of the movement of the horse and explained how riding in any other way restricts the natural movement of the horse. Once the rider was able to maintain her correct position in walk they began to trot. Pip insisted that she only trot for as long as she was able to maintain the correct posture and level of relaxation. As soon as she stiffened up Pip asked her to go back to a walk as otherwise she would be bouncing around on Chester’s back and that wouldn’t be fair. Pip suggested that she only do a maximum of six strides of trot each time before coming back to a walk. They spent some time working on the transition from trot to walk ensuring that impulsion was not lost despite the change of gait and Pip also taught the rider how to halt without relying on the reins.
I watched the lesson from start to finish. What struck me most of all was the compassion with which the horse was treated. His needs were never neglected. The rider improved dramatically. Far more of an improvement than I would expect to see in one lesson! As I have come to expect of Pip there was no endless barrage of instructions and yet everything the rider needed to know was conveyed to her concisely along with an explanation of why things needed to be done in that particular way. It showed me that doing something the right way for short periods is far more beneficial than doing something badly for much longer!
I am so relieved that I have found Pip. To know that I can look forward to learning to ride properly without worrying that I will be allowed to damage or hurt any horse along the way is a great comfort.