The good, the bad and the ugly...


Today was one of those days where I could easily have walked away feeling less than good about my performance. When I first came to Pippsway I was overweight, and very unfit, so when I was Freeschooling had to rely very heavily on working with energy and intention. Over the weeks the weight is gradually coming off and my fitness is improving! So I’ll be even better at Freeschooling right? Er…...no…..apparently not.

Dear Amber, who has worked so beautifully for me in the past, didn’t get the best of me today. The first part of our session went well. She was moving beautifully and came off the line with ease at my request. We changed the rein and things didn’t go quite so well. I have always found it harder to work with her on this rein but we usually get there in the end! Not today…..I kept asking for her to come off the line and got too far behind her. My energy was wrong and so when I tried to move closer to her to ‘drive’ her forwards off the line in a circle she just ran away from me….instead of realising my mistake I just kept trying and getting faster and faster. This succeeded only in making me very tired and sweaty and was not in the least bit effective!

The worst part is that when I realised I was getting tired and needed to take five Amber began to walk over to me. I can’t see properly out of my right eye but if I had been aware of her I would have known that she was there and moving towards me. Instead I was chatting to Pip and Rhiannon and had my lunge whip upright and without any thought to what I was doing or how I was doing it turned around. This is especially bad because Amber is only beginning to learn to trust humans after two years with Pip. It was a tremendous compliment that she was approaching me and my thoughtless response undid all that…..

Despite Pip giving me some feedback during my breather, when I tried again to get her to circle off the line it was still to no avail. But I kept trying the same thing over and over. Eventually I knew it was over and changed the rein, asked her to circle and stop (which she did beautifully) and then called it a day.

I left the menage thinking ‘I need to get fitter. I couldn’t get positioned behind Amber right because I can’t move fast enough’. Hard to admit that I still hadn’t realised the problem. Only when I spoke to Pip after the lesson to reflect on what had gone wrong and she pointed out my mistake did I realise, I had relied too heavily on the physical and neglected to consider my energy and work with the intention in the way we know Amber responds to so well.

The positive in all of this is I have learned some important lessons. To be aware of my horse at all times, even when I am having a breather, to be aware of energy, intention and body language with equal measure, never allowing one to overshadow all the others. I will be sure not to make those mistakes so quickly again. It is very humbling when you have such respect for a horse to realise you have let them down…..ouch!

I very much look forward to my next lesson and working with Amber in the manner she is deserving of!

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