I established a new relationship today.
There are some horses I’ve met that I instantly have a connection with and feel affection for. Others take longer, or a particular moment for me to develop that level of understanding. Today I had the chance to do that with a young horse here, Apollo.
He was here last year, but I didn’t ride him much and never really spent much time with him so I didn’t develop much of a relationship with him. So far this year he’s been one of the horses that I will happily tack up, ride on treks here and there, muck out, feed etc, but not one I have any special affection for. Until today.
For today, Evelyn and I were able to get a proper jumping lesson with Ginny and I had the gorgeous Apollo for it. He’s still a young horse, around six or seven (we aren’t 100% sure) and due to the fact he’s been trekking with beginners from a young age he’s a little unbalanced and wobbly. Warming up I realised just how wobbly he is, and did what I could to help him find his balance. We got a good enough rhythm in each pace and I was happy with him because I could feel him trying to respond.
Ginny then started us off with a simple cross rail. We popped over it nice and easy, and I began to have my suspicions about what Apollo was going to be like to jump.
I was soon proved correct in my thoughts, as we quickly progressed onto a bounce. Which Apollo took in his stride with no issues, backing off the tiniest amount before popping over it neatly and smoothly. He’s a super little jumper. He needs a bit more fitness, and some work on his balance and straightness, but he’s got the makings of a fabulous jumping pony.
We jumped a cross-rail bounce a few times, and then Ginny changed it to a vertical bounce. Which Apollo, once again, quite literally bounced over happy as you like. Bish bash bosh.
Evelyn was riding Smokey, another of the ponies on the yard, who is usually known for his slow and lethargic approach to life. She revved him up well though, and got him soaring over the fences, despite his initial “WHAT THE” as he went through the bounce. She was putting in a lot of effort through the jumps to keep him going and her sound effects were truly priceless!
Having bounced us both a few times over the verticals, Ginny decided it was time to build a spread and get the ponies stretching over the fence. I was expecting Apollo to balk a little at the larger jump looming in front of him as we approached, but he did nothing apart from get the striding bang on and fly beautifully over the spread. We jumped the ascending oxer a few times before it was changed into a parallel, which yet again proved no issue for the superstar Apollo. He just took off and soared, again.
He has a really lovely jump and while his technique needs a little work before it’s perfect, I really enjoyed him. Ginny suggested I ride him some more, and do more jumping with him which is fine by me. I felt we worked well together, Apollo and I. A good jumping team. I kept him straight and balanced into the fences, keeping my legs on the whole way to encourage him through and he rewarded me by cruising over everything in his path like a real trooper.
I was so pleased with him!
I also rode the gorgeous Skelatchi today, western style. Oh yeah! He’s such a cranky horse, but he loves working. I’d been helping Ginny with Cookie, acting as jump crew while she put the young mare through a couple of bounces (the destruction of one of which was incredible) and during that time Skelatchi kicked his stable door incessantly. So I fetched his tack and jumped on to shut him up. It worked. He settled into work mode and we walked around the arena with a good sense of purpose. Ginny set up a triangle with some poles which I took him through from various different directions to make him think. We also walked over some trotting poles, and did as many different changes of rein as I could think of. Due to his sore left side, we don’t do a lot of anything more than walking with him as we don’t want to put too much strain on him too soon. He’s also incredibly unfit as he hasn’t been worked in god knows how long. So he struggles to trot for too long. But I got him moving on in the trot today, ending our session by trotting over the trot poles in a lovely light floaty trot. Beautiful!
Tomorrow heralds the arrival of the residential campers for the Horsemanship camp which runs for a week. It should be a good camp as the kids will all be more experienced around horses so we can do some more interesting and fun stuff with them. We might even get to join in on some of the fun if we’re lucky!
Tomorrow also brings around another day off for me. Hurrah! I intend to sleep for a good portion of the morning, although I’m not actually as weary as I expected to be this evening. But sleep can never be a bad thing. I have also volunteered to help Anita with picking people up from various locations tomorrow which means at some point in the afternoon I will be heading to Killarney to fetch Sonny and possibly Adele after their escapades in Cork with Uni friends and hometown friends respectively.
But for now I am thinking only of flying over jumps with Apollo, making a cup of tea, and sleeping.
Stay happy folks.