Spring has sprung (kind of!) and to kick start my own horsey summer I have ventured into boot camp with my lovely 5 year old Irish Sports Horse Skip. Since purchasing him back in October our progress together has been rather stop start with interruptions due to two changes of yard and the ever depressing weather conditions of snow, ice, freezing temperatures and torrential rain! He has coped remarkably well with his changes of routine but after 6 months together I really wanted to start making some more consistent progress. Having considered him going away for intense schooling and further education I decided that I would prefer for us to progress together and for him not to be unsettled again with another change of location. After a chat with my brilliant riding instructor we set up a plan to help progress his flatwork which I was really looking forward to beginning. I had a quiet word with Skip and informed him of our plans and a couple of weeks ago all the hard work started. My instructor Natalie has been coming to do some schooling sessions with him when I am stuck in the office working and is doing a fabulous job. Combined with my practise sessions in between as well as a variety of lessons he is making no end of progress. It is really lovely to see how his lateral work has improved from when I first bought him home - it’s like things are starting to really fall into place for him and he is becoming physically stronger to be able to complete the lateral work with more ease. He is a big growing horse and we are careful to ensure he is not physically or mentally pushed too far and of course the main aim is to keep all this work fun for everyone involved! Natalie has a fantastic way of teaching and training horses combining classical seat training and biomechanical techniques to encourage Skip and me to work together to get the best out of one another. Natalie has retrained me to use my whole body and mind to ride Skip instead of just using my legs and hand. Skip and I are both growing in strength (and muscles!) and it’s great to have Natalie’s help to consolidate our learning and take us on to the next step. Natalie teaches across the Herts, Beds and Bucks area and you can find out more about her work through her website.
I am afraid that photography is not my forte but I have included a couple of snaps I have taken of Natalie working with Skip during the last week. I will continue to take photos to track his progress over the upcoming weeks and months. Fingers crossed that we will both continue to make big improvements over the next 6 months (and many more years!) together. People keep asking me about my plans for him and of course I would like to get out competing but we have all the time in the world and I do not want to put pressure on him until he is comfortably ready. I would much rather do everything properly and although I might feel occasionally frustrated I am not out there competing every weekend like many other people, I know that is it better to train the right way for long term success and fun together.
I’ll be sure to keep you updated on our progress and if you are working on something with your horse, be it flatwork, jumping or even groundwork, remember to keep it fun and take away the pressure to perform. Be assured that whatever pace you are going is the right speed for you and your horse. Remember sometimes it can be just as rewarding giving your horse a groom as competing at a show. Whatever disciplines or activities you choose to pursue, my only advice is to make sure you enjoy them!