Face-planting is always funny when its not you!
I have often found myself face first on the floor with witnesses. It’s usually an awkward, embarrassing and hilarious situation. Usually I’m pretty good at laughing at myself, and I shrug it off well enough. But today was the crème de la crème, because I got to witness someone else face planting. Oh it was beautiful. More on that later.
It was wet today. Very very wet. I got soaked. Mainly because Sonya had us lungeing all of the horses so that we could assess them and see whether they were coughing or not. Tarzan has a bit of a spring cough, and Maisey has also starting. So we were testing whether or not it had spread any further. Our lungeing today was very non-BHS in that we slung on cavessons, a lunge line and spun the horses round in each pace for a bit. If they didn’t cough, we put them away and dragged out the next one.
My first pick, and no prizes for seeing this one coming, was the lovely Fox. Who looked at me in utter shock and horror as I put on the cavesson, pulled off his rug and walked him into the school in driving rain. He went well enough for me though, despite his canter being a bit unbalanced and speedy. We soon established that he was fine, so I moved onto the next one.
Lucy was reported to have coughed a couple of times yesterday, so I started her up to see how she went. No coughs to be heard this morning and a slightly reluctant but responsive lunge session. Here we go. Here’s the best bit of the entire day. While doing this lungeing, we were using half the school at a time, so there were two people going at once. While I was spinning Fox, Amy was getting Connor up and running. By the time I came out with Lucy, Tillie had got Lucky ready as well. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to what was going on down the other end of the school as I was focused on what I was doing with Lucy. So it wasn’t until I was turning back towards that end of the school on my circle that I saw Lucky flying towards me, lunge line trailing behind him with Tillie in rather close contact with the ground where she should have been standing up holding the line attached to the horse that was threatening to canter straight into me.
I halted Lucy and spun around, grabbing the lunge line off the floor as Lucky slowed himself down to stand next to Lucy. Dusting herself off, Tillie marched over to grab her pony back and drag him off for some serious discussion on appropriate behaviour whilst lungeing. Lucy and I were done by this point, so we vacated our end for someone else. But that image has stuck in my head. Of Tillie’s wellies slightly higher than her head as she plunged and rolled oh so gracefully across the school.
Sonya then suggested I lunge Africa for her, so I did just that. The last time I lunged this mare she broncked and bucked and played silly buggers, causing concern to Amy and Victor who were having a lunge lesson in the other half of the school at the time. Today, however, she was the model lunge horse, working beautifully on her circle and responding instantly to my voice commands. She let out one little squeal at one point and threatened to buck but a tap on the bum with the whip to send her forward and she realised that sticking to a nice simple canter would be much easier. And she actually worked quite nicely despite her displeasure at the weather, having to work and being in the arena at the same time as another lungeing pony.
In between each of my lungeing sessions, the others were all spinning ponies too, so when it came to putting Africa away there were only two left to try. Blossom, who Tillie was already fitting a cavesson to, and Tilly. I sighed, and got the naughty pony ready. She started titting about almost immediately, threatening to stamp on my feet before we’d even got into the lungeing space. So I let the line out quickly and sent her forwards from the off. She was not impressed at all by the rain or the wind, and even less so by the whip at her back end and the fact that no way in hell was I going to let go of that lunge line.
She tried everything I think. Bucking, broncking, rearing, speeding up, slowing down, turning in towards me, changing the rein unasked, kicking out, trying to barge into me, spinning her quarters out while she bucked…etc. But I was absolutely NOT letting go. When she tried to change the rein, I got really cross. I’d got her settled on the left rein and working fairly well considering we had no training aids or anything attached. So I thought it was time to change rein and get her going the other way. She disagreed. We’d done one circuit in trot, and as we came round to start the second circuit, she suddenly spun in towards me and turned to go the other way. She took off in a speedy canter which meant it took about a circuit to get her slowed down enough for me to implement cross Megan face. I slowed her trot down as much as I could before forcing her to spin on herself and change back. Most of my time lungeing her was spent pushing her forward in the canter, making her keep going even when she wanted to stop. After that I was able to slow her down and get the trot established on a better level.
I did realise about halfway through that I’d stopped spinning her to see if she was coughing, and was actually making her work properly on the lunge. But if she hadn’t been so naughty in the first place she could have had a nice chilled short and sweet run out like the others.
Having established that most of the yard is fine, we continued to get wet by doing the afternoon stables as early as we could so that we could all go and ride Eddie later on. We elected not to ride out in the rain, because we were totally soaked already and didn’t have the energy to put up with any more. So Eddie had a crowd of young ladies around him instead. Sonya got us all doing similar exercises, working on jump position and focusing on core strength. She got us to go from sitting to standing to jump, and then from jump to a half halt jump, the kind you’d do in between combination fences when you don’t have time to sit back properly. It took a lot to try and keep yourself in that position, as your natural balance was trying to pull you back into the saddle proper.
After driving through Hereford to Tillie’s in the pouring rain, I then ended up riding a real live pony. In the pouring rain. Tillie got on first and had a bit of a ride around, and then it was my turn. I hopped on board and immediately felt totally weird and awkward. He’s not a very tall pony, so my legs felt like they were stretching down into nothingness. But, he’s superb. We walked along for a bit first, getting to know each other a little, but I popped him up into trot fairly quickly just to get him moving and focused a little. He’s got a neat little trot, and we moved around the arena easily. I then tried out a canter on each rein, managing a full circuit each way before I let him stop. At first I thought he was bucking through the transition, but I soon realised it was just him gathering himself behind to push forwards. Bless his heart, he worked nicely and gave me some of the best leg yield I’ve ever sat. He’s definitely stronger on one side, evident in all three paces, but he’s a gorgeous little pony. I even forgot how wet it was until I got off!
I’m rather tired, but then I have been all day. And look at all the things I achieved feeling like that! I’m on the yard again tomorrow, which looks to be a busy one, and then the girls and I are off for dinner tomorrow evening. I intend to wear a skirt whether it rains or not. Mostly because that’s the only nice item of clothing I have with me so it’s that, or go all slobby in my jeans and jumper.
And then Sunday, good people, is my birthday.
And I get to hack Foxy. So excited.
It’s going to be a fast one.