I’m really enjoying my sessions with Bronson at the moment. I thought I was before, but now that I am considering direction so much more, it’s really brightened things up for us both! It seems so obvious now that the menage is a blank canvas and we can circle, change direction and spiral and all sorts. No two sessions need ever be the same! I just hadn’t thought to do it before. This is made all the more ridiculous by the fact I’ve watched Pip schooling horses many times, and that’s exactly how she uses the menage, and in clinics she has us doing all sorts of interesting things! As with so much of good horsemanship, it is obvious to me once it’s been pointed out.
What is also surprising is that, looking back over video footage, whilst I feel like I’m taking a different path every single time I ride around the menage, I’m still quite often going over the same ground, so there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
I had a lovely session the other day. Bronson and I were alone at the yard with Luke, my greyhound, who was having a fabulous time running around in the pasture next to the menage as we rode around. Bronson was in an outline more than he wasn’t and was listening intently to all my instructions. I was over the moon! It was a windy day and the leaves blowing off the trees was beautiful and I was the most inventive I’ve been thus far with trying new patterns. We were really ‘in the zone’ and I felt like we achieved our best work yet. We even managed to maintain our outline on the downhill!
You can imagine my surprise then when I got home and looked at my gopro footage to see that my riding had in fact been rather awful! Certainly the worst it had been in ages. My elbows were sticking out, my right lower leg was right back and my over rising in my trot was really exaggerated. I was crestfallen. On the other hand Bronson looked beautiful! He was tracking up and working nicely and we had the most outline we’ve ever had! I could only conclude that my intention and mental focus must have been really good because he was clearly doing such lovely work in spite of my riding and not because of it!
I spoke to Pip about it the following day and she said that for all horses the mental element of riding is the most important. You can be riding perfectly physically but if your mental focus and intention is off then that’s harder for the horse. Obviously I’m aiming to achieve both! One thing is for certain and that is that Bronson deserves a sainthood for working so beautifully when I wasn’t exactly helping him on his way with my body!