(Featured imaged by Karen Chaplin photography)

Between the snow, the return of Abbey’s ulcer symptoms and her first season of the year, we’ve had we’ve had quite a month!

While I have kept her ticking over fitness wise, it’s all been rather low-key with no lessons and no outings.

This week, however, we’ve started to pick things up again with two flatwork lessons and a pole clinic at Swallowfields.

We’re taking a bit of a step back in the flatwork, concentrating on impulsion and suppleness. My RI has had me focusing on one tap with my legs to ask for a transition and taking my leg OFF! It’s easier said than done; I’ve a well-practiced habit of nagging, asking for just a little more of this or that.

Abbey is a smart girl and quickly caught on to the idea, but then I would ruin it all and start nagging again.  As a result my legs quickly become background noise and Abbey vaguely ignores them.  Consequently she stops being in front of my leg and we loose impulsion. Not helpful, when we’re trying more demanding movements like medium trot.

We’ve also been working on relaxation through the trot-canter transition.  On a 20m circle I flex Abbey out and in again, while in trot and then slip in a transition while still asking for the flexion….atm it feels a bit like patting my head and rubbing my tummy!

This weekend we attended a pole work clinic at Swallowfields.

Connemara pony going over a zig zag of poles
Connemara pony going over a zig zag of poles

Unfortunately Abbey didn’t travel well (we’re back working on that again now!) and there was a lot going on including, quadrille practice, packs of ramblers, horses being worked in the fields and horses being brought in and taken out.  As a result we were lacking some concentration to get the most out of the session.

BUT it was a great experience for Abbey and we picked up some real gems from Jo Swain.  I’m putting too much weight through my left hand side and blocking with my left hand – which is why Abbey is tight on her left hand side. When circling on the right rein, I need to turn my rib cage. And when Abbey is having a mini meltdown, I need to remember to give with my hands and push her forwards.

The pole work highlighted where we are lacking the suppleness and brought Abbey’s attention back onto the work we were trying to do.

I’d definitely go back and do another one.