I know I shouldn’t say it but I’m really chuffed with myself tonight.  I managed to turn a schooling session that was fast heading toward disaster round to a productive, worthwhile session.

I did make a couple of rookie mistakes early on: #1 trimming Abbey’s ear fluff and #2 testing how Abbey goes without a flash – both on one of the windiest nights of the year so far. The result? A spooky pony armed with supersonic hearing and her favourite evasion (running with her mouth open wide like a hippo and a neck as high and long as a giraffe).

The first 20minutes were awful and I seriously considered calling it a day. But I didn’t. I dug deep and tried something else. I had been trying to using transitions and changes of direction to get Abbey concentrating on me rather than the ghosts, phantom wolves and imaginary horse-eating squirrels that were hiding outside the arena.

It didn’t work so I switched to some flexing and bending on circles, then on straight lines and just when she ‘gave’, working long and low in walk (for a rest and reward).  When I moved up to trot (still long and low) Abbey felt really nice and relaxed. But then two of her ‘closest friends’ (she’s not stabled or in a field anywhere near them) were turned out, requiring a fresh impression of animals from Africa.

Still at least she recovered quickly and settled back down to work.

From the trot work we moved up into canter.  At first she offered a silly, rocking horse canter that’s a sort of fake-uphill cop out.  So I pushed her on and brought her back a few times and practiced keeping the more collected canter on the long sides. It went well – better than anything we did last week. We repeated the exercises on the other rein and then came back down to trot.

The trot from then on was heavenly….really forward going but not rushed.  She was really using her back end, after a couple of circles on each rein, we called it a day and used practicing a free walk on a long rein to cool down.