When I first came to Pippsway my goal was to learn to ride properly. Pips approach to this has been so different to anything I have ever experienced before and yet it all makes perfect sense. Instead of popping me on a horse that first day, and then trying to improve my riding, Pip began by teaching me about the true nature of horses and managing myself around them. Then we moved onto working with horses from the ground using energy, intention and body language; all the while working on many other aspects including improving my core strength and fitness.
Pip teaches each necessary skill so that they sit upon each other like building blocks. As the next layer is built the foundation beneath is sturdy and strong. Not only does Pips way of working make total sense, it now seems bizarre to me that anyone would set about learning to ride in any other way!
Today in my lesson with Amber we reached the dizzy new heights of figures of eight and collection and extension within gaits. Given that all of this is achieved from the ground through nothing more than energy, intention and body language that is impressive indeed! The improvement I’ve seen in our pairing in these last two weeks is astonishing!! There was a moment when Amber was getting sticky in one corner and I was able to address this in a second just by changing the positioning of my hips. Because I have been taught not only what to do but also why I am doing it, I can assess what needs to be done without having to turn to Pip all the time.
In the early days I struggled to maintain the necessary level of awareness and focus for any amount of time at all. Already I am able to keep my focus far longer, am more confident in my body language and that makes all the other things I need to be doing much easier. I now realise that if I had needed to concentrate on learning all those things whilst also trying to manage the physical elements of absorbing the movement of the horse, and everything else I will have to consider when I am riding, I would have found it nigh on impossible and certainly impossible to do well!
Pip has told me that she does not back her horses until they are five years old but that by the time she does, everything has already been accomplished on the ground, so the transition to being under saddle is much easier for them. I now see that applying the same principles to riding is a no brainer! By the time I actually ride a horse I will already have been taught many of the requisite skills from the ground. I will be capable of attaining and maintaining the correct posture, energy, intention and body language. Pip is both setting me up for success and ensuring that I will not be harming the horse when I come to ride him.
I left the yard today feeling elated at how well everything is coming together. I know that I am much closer to riding properly than I have ever been before. I could never have imagined how rewarding working with horses from the ground would be. I’ve experienced more connection, elation, fun and fulfillment since coming to Pippsway than in all my previous lessons and hacks added together!