December 15, 2009

D-cert here I come

Have not been having the easiest time with Shante just lately - we did expect it wouldn't be easy, but I'm not that keen on getting hurt straight before the holidays start either! So I purchased some toe cages (I have picked up a crazy fear of being dragged), and yesterday I decided I was going to win this damned battle if it was the last thing I did. So I loaded up with safety gear and had a ride and got Shante through a lot of panic attacks / small bucks (didn't even progress to the corkscrews she has done a few times). I was stoked! So today I got Nick to come down while I rode and take some photos.
First we have my hilariously overdone safety / panic gear. Notice I have:
  • back protector in case of um, 'ground collision'!
  • hair inside helmet to not get stood on
  • martingale to keep reins safe if they come over her head
  • left hand side grab-strap
  • right hand side grab-strap (yeah, perhaps overkill!)
  • toe cages on stirrups
  • soft lunging rein in case I fall so she doesn't get away
  • whip in case of bucking haha
Well - today she was almost a perfect angel. A few little steps with her back up from time to time, but I am able to push her through them mostly with my voice and legs. She didn't even try a small buck today - a couple times she felt like she might when I was practising flopping around in the saddle, but as soon as I gave her a good growling she settled right back down.
She wasn't too keen about Neo coming over to hassle her, so Nick took Neo over to the grass so he could stuff his face some more and we went for a trot! The trot is coming along so much better, now that I trust her enough to push her forward more aggressively, I am able to get a better trot under saddle and sustain it. I don't really have a good space to rider her in at home, so we're doing a 15m circle on sloping ground.
By this stage the trot was going really well and her transitions were coming as soon as I asked. She still feels a bit unsure sometimes of what I am asking - but as long as I ride very assertive and be very clear with my aids then she seems to be happy. I figured I'd pop her over a tiny xrail... we shambled up at a walk/trot and she hopped over really nicely. Pretty terrible form, but you can't expect too much from a walk!
Really stoked with the past 2 days of rides on her, but I also understand that it's highly likely we will have a few more tough days ahead of us - but it's great to finally be getting some progress and working out her 'buttons'. I must almost be at the stage now where I could sit pony club D certificate on her!