Up, Up, Up

My pony love has branched out.

I won’t be ditching Fox any time soon, but I have developed love for another horse today. I tried not to lay it on too thick, wouldn’t want Foxy getting jealous now, but the mare I rode today is pretty awesome.

After a bit of debate this morning, I ended up being given Dotty, a thoroughbred mare, to ride. I hadn’t ridden her before so was plenty keen to hop on board. The only potential issue was the fact that we were going to be jumping, and Dotty hadn’t jumped at Holme Lacy yet so Sonya had no idea what she would be like over a fence. Some horses get fast and excited and jump horrendously long. Others are so lazy they basically barrel into them. And some use their backs so much that they leap over the fence like a cat. All of which can throw you off balance very easily. I understood Sonya’s initial pause when considering whether to let me jump Dotty or not, as I’ve not been jumping for that long really and I still have a fair bit to work on. Giving me a horse that might react badly or too positively to a jump would probably do more harm than good. In the end though she turned to us and said “oh hell with it, in for a penny in for a pound, ride Dotty and we’ll see what happens.”

I was pleased because not only did I want to try Dotty anyway, but also that Sonya decided I could handle it if the horse threw something strange at me. Although I think the fact that I jump Fox quite happily may well work in my favour. He’s hardly the easiest horse to handle over a fence.

As it turns out, Dotty is super. She’s a very sweet mare anyway although she does tend to work quite flat and long. She’s got a nice trot though and is very responsive. Her canter can get a bit quick, but then she is a thoroughbred. She doesn’t do anything naughty though, just gets a bit strong and doesn’t always like to come back to trot when you ask her to. But when it came to the jumps, she was fabulous.

We began by trotting over a few poles, during which she was very polite indeed, picking her little feet up and popping over them nice and quietly. When Sonya put the first fence up, I don’t think Dotty even realised what was going on until we’d already gone over it. Bless her. She was pretty well behaved throughout the lesson though and given that it was her first jumping session in a few months at least, she did brilliantly. We knocked over the initial fence once, but after that we cleared everything no problem.

At first she was jumping quite long and rather flat, using speed rather than technique to clear them. After a few goes though, she started to work in slightly closer to the fences and jumping them properly. The distance on the double wasn’t quite right for her which meant we found it a bit tricky to get a rhythm going over that, but she sure gave it some effort. And by the end of the lesson it didn’t even take quarter of the school to get back down from canter to trot after the final jump.

I quite enjoyed her. In a lot of ways she was very similar to Foxy, with her slightly longer jumps and tendency to speed off after a jump. She’s also pretty sensitive when it comes to the rider’s movements on her back, although in a less explosive manner than Fox. Her head carriage is usually quite high too, although to be honest I didn’t really notice as compared to Fox, she was positively long and low. Jumping her certainly had a similar feel though, which probably accounts for why I enjoyed her so much. If I’m able to continue jumping with the pair of them, I shall be very happy indeed.

Between those two lovely ponies, they’ve just about got it covered.

Sonya’s catchphrase for today’s lesson was “Up, up, up”. I heard it on several occasions and she quietly encouraged us to ride with a little more pizazz. She said we were all being rather too blasé and relaxed about it all, which meant the horses weren’t really picking themselves up and rising to the challenge. As we approached the fences she’d call out “up, up, up” reminding us to put the leg on and really try and lift the horse over the jump. The horses all seemed to up their game a bit, but then so did the riders.

One thing I love is seeing the horses enjoying themselves. The three in my lesson today, Tilly, Lucky and Dotty, all seemed to really revel in the jumping. The ears came forward as they locked onto the jump and they really did go for it. Lucky, bless him, gets tired quite quickly as he’s really very unfit, but he’s got a lot of heart so was responding as best he could when Tillie urged him on. Tilly is only a youngster but she’s got areal pop on her, and she seemed to really get something out of flying over those fences. And Dotty was so very honest and sweet, and really did seem to enjoy herself.

Dotty seemed pretty shattered afterwards though. While I untacked her she stood leaning her head against the wall and when I went to lift her head up slightly so I could do up her rug, she leant it on my shoulder instead. And man was it heavy! Leading her out to the field she was really chilled and slow as well. Bless her, I tuckered her out. Poor pony.

Fox nickered at me when I walked across the yard after riding though, so I did go and apologise for my fickle behaviour. He then licked my hands to within an inch of their lives, so I think that means I was forgiven..?

The next few days of my life are going to be pretty full and busy. Tomorrow I’m on the yard again and when I get home my brother will be back from Uni and we’re going to start decorating the house. Then on Sunday, oh Sunday, the beautiful Kat is coming down to stay for a couple of days. I am literally so excited. Seeing her is going to make my year. I don’t think I’ve actually ever felt this excited about anything ever.



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