Learning from Experience
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of teaching the Dengie Pony Club Winter League prizedraw winner at Richmond Equestrian Centre. Sophie had actually won on her older loan pony but came along with her new 5 year old mare Poppy.
As it was a new partnership I thought we would do some flat work and then move on to showjumping as Sophie's aim for next year is to start eventing Poppy, so it was an ideal opportunity to work on the basics.
We started off working a little on bending in walk and trying to keep Poppy's attention on Sophie as she was a little spooky in the new location! Then we started to add in a little leg yield away from the inside leg on a circle to teach Poppy that the leg doesn't just mean go forward. We did the same in the trot and soon worked out that Poppy was much easier one way than the other- once we got her moving away from the leg and bending she took the contact and looked quite grown up! Poppy's canter was very balanced for a young horse but her transitions into canter were hollow and she liked to run into the canter - so we spent a while working on the quality and the rhythm of the trot to set up the canter. Poppy was a very quick learner and it only took a few attempts to get her to stay round and not rush into the canter!
We then moved on to the jumping. We had a full course including doubles and lots of fillers so there was a lot for Poppy to look at! Sophie took Poppy for a little walk around the arena to let her get used to the jumps and let her see what was going on. We then moved on to trotting poles to see if she would keep her rhythm and straightness, she was excellent at this so we started jumping! To see what Sophie was like over a jump we started with a cross pole off both reins, we established that Poppy found it easier to keep her balance from the right than the left. Once the jump went up to an upright Sophie found it harder to keep Poppy in balance and rhythm into the fence. I put up v poles to help Sophie keep Poppy straight and then got her to ride with more leg on and the difference was notable!
It was then time to look at the rest of the course! The first filler we came to Poppy stopped at, Sophie didnt tell her off as it was just a green mistake, she made Poppy come straight back round to it and this time she pinged over it! The more Sophie and Poppy jumped the braver they both got, by the end of the lesson they jumped the full course in a flowing rhythm and looked like they were ready to go out and compete!
Kate Hayward from Dengie was also there to offer Sophie some feeding advice for Poppy and arranged a yard visit to weigh the horses with the Dengie Portable Weighbridge!