As you know, I am in need of a little motivation. With this in mind, I rang the local riding school on Saturday and booked myself in for a lesson today. It was just what I needed as this morning it was freezing cold and trying to snow. It was just the sort of day for chucking out, mucking out and going back indoors double quick.
But instead, I turned Zak and Barnaby out, mucked Zak out and then tacked Max up, much to his annoyance. He was filthy, but my tack was clean, and so were my riding boots (two out of three ain't bad!) and we set off, side by side, down the road.
My teacher is called Rosie, and she's very young. Last time I went, which must have been last winter, she really annoyed me, and I came out rather depressed, but today was much better.
Max started snorting as soon as we arrived. I walked him down to the indoor school and got on inside. I walked him round to have a look at everything (lots of scary things in an empty indoor school, you'd be surprised!) and get settled. We started the lesson, and all was going swimmingly, just working on transitions and keeping my flipping flappy legs still, and not lifting my heel up all the time. We were just coming down the long side from A to C when all of a sudden Max lifted up on his hind legs and shot forward, then did it again. It must have looked amazing, and I didn't come off, but it was like riding a kangaroo, 'airs above the ground' and all that. Rosie was speechless for a while, and quite pale. The top part of the school is made of slats of wood, and you can see daylight in the gaps. Max had seen a horse being led up the track from the field to the stables and absolutely freaked over it. He did calm down again, but was very 'on his toes' and did a bit of a 'swing-round' in the corner facing the other way about ten minutes later. There are horses in the field outside the school, and I think he could hear them moving about and it put him off.
But it was a good lesson. I'm really glad I went, and I'm going again next week. In fact, the plan is to have a lesson every week in February and March, to get us ready for the showing season. I am going to go even if it's snowing.
And a breakthrough for me was that I got on him and rode home up the road, which I found quite nerve-wracking, but I did it, so I think I should be quite pleased really.
Missis knocked on my door at lunch time, to say the postman had been, and handed me a parcel. I nearly shut the door in her face, I was so desperate to sit down, tear off the wrapping and stare at the Kelly Marks book. This book has a lot to live up to. Mine and Max's future may depend on what lies between the covers. I have been reading it all afternoon, but need to read the first couple of chapters again so that I can take Max down to the manege tomorrow and start trying some of it out. It sounds very good, so I hope it works. The first bit is all about working from the ground, and moving your horse towards you and away from you, getting the horse to respect your space, which at the moment, Max definitely doesn't.
I had a look on the Intelligent Horsemanship website, and there are courses, but it's three hundred pounds for a weekend, which is out of the question frankly. However, there are associate teachers who have been trained in their techniques, and one of them is in Swadlincote, which isn't very far away. I think I might see if she will come out and get me started and show me how to do join-up. If you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about, I will try to explain as we go along, but I barely know myself at this stage!
And I must give credit where credit is due, and say that it turns out Mr O came sixth in the TREC competition last week. They very kindly sent his rosette in the post. He is very pleased, as you can imagine. He's done extremely well for a first-timer, but I never doubted Barnaby's capabilities.
On Saturday night we went to the Amber Valley Riders presentation dinner. We both got a silver rosette for the amount of rides we completed, which is very nice. It's a way of saying thankyou to us for taking part, but really I think the thanks should go to them for putting on such brilliant, well organised rides. I'm really looking forward to doing them again this year.
Just to let you know that I am still sewing away. The problem is that I am making a lot of cards and things for people who read this blog, so I'll have to show them to you 'after the event'. I did a little cross stitch in one session yesterday, something that would have taken me a week when I first started out.
I am on a cross stitching group on Facebook. I put a question on there about how to do french knots, as I don't understand the diagram in my book. A woman very kindly replied with a link to a video showing you exactly how to do it, which is fantastic. I have forwarded it onto Lisa who wants to know, too. The bears' eyes on my latest project should have been french knots, so I might see if I can unpick them and re-do them properly (after a little practise first.) Isn't it lovely when people go out of their way to be helpful like that? It restores my faith in human nature.