When you own a young horse all of the focus tends to be on them, making sure they’re getting the right training and making sure, as the rider, you don’t die. For a solid two years all of my riding time has been spent getting Coco to exactly where she is now. From a green youngster to a (slightly) more matured horse who can be expected to behave herself. So what happens now?
Well for me, its time to put the focus back on me and my own riding. I’ve definitely used the ‘ride the way your horse needs you to ride’ excuse for far too long and because of that my riding has seriously suffered. My position in general needs the most amount of work. I tend to squeeze with my heels as opposed to my calf so my heels don’t always stay down, my shoulders are always slouched so I tend to tip forward, I look down at Coco rather than looking up at where I’m going and I struggle to keep a consistent contact. These are all just bad habits that I haven’t been strict with myself about fixing but now is the time! So I’ve started doing lessons again with my good friend Sue Byrne.
So far I’ve had two lessons – one flatwork and one jumping lesson. And from these lessons I’ve had 3 revelations…
The flatwork lesson was exactly what I needed. As soon as we got started Sue was shouting; ‘Look up!’, ‘Tits out’ and other memorable little phrases that I’ve been saying to myself as I ride ever since that lesson. We did some exercises to get Coco listening to my aids and worked on our canter transitions which have gone to absolute shit in the last few months. It was at the end of this lesson that I had my first revelation; I am the problem when it comes to the issues I’m having while riding at the moment.
We did our jumping lesson at the National Horse Sport Arena (one of my all time favourite schooling venues). We started with my jumping position and looking at where I should be placing my hands and how my shoulders should stay behind my hands. We also worked on my ability to see a stride (my achilles heel) and knowing when and how to adjust Coco’s canter around a course. Revelation number two; my job is to get Coco to the jump as best as I can, after that its all up to her.
While these issues with my riding may seem so basic to some people, it’s incredible how much of a rut I’m in because I haven’t been working on myself. And so we reach revelation number three; if I want Coco to reach her full potential, I need to become a better rider. So that’s my plan. I’m going to take the winter to work on myself and my riding so that next year myself and Coco will be ready to boss it no matter what we do.