It’s been a while since I last posted because my time has temporarily reallocated to demolishing one kitchen and building a new one (boring!).

Abbey has been ticking over. The most exciting things have been our lessons with Sam. And there have been two since my last post.

In the first one we worked on keeping Abbey up and together in trot. He did this by establishing the trot on a circle – going forward and then asking her to slow the pace but keep the power – and then taking it large. We both tend to relax on the long sides of the school and as a result Abbey’s hind legs begin to trail, she starts to go flat and hollow and by the end of the 2nd long-side of the arena, other lovely outline has completely unravelled!

Sam also introduced us to renver in this lesson. It always amazes me how quickly Abbey gets the hang of new exercises, when I ask correctly.  The tricky bit is getting me to co-ordinate my body to do the asking.

Yesterday we worked solely on me with a biomechanics lesson.  As we were doing our warm up, Abbey was doing her usual drifting through the left shoulder. Sam asked ‘where is your left seat bone?’.  It was a hard question to answer. I knew where I thought my right one was but my left appeared to be absent.

Interestingly my right felt like it was half way across the right hand side of the saddle….apparently that’s not where it is supposed to be.

After establishing that I do have a left seat bone, that I can find it and when I really really concentrate I can make it touch the saddle, I had to describe the differences. Sounds daft but the right felt ‘sharp’ and ‘pointy’ while the left felt ‘blunt’.

After some more questionning we established that whenever I used my left leg/became unbalanced/asked for a lateral movement I was tense my left butt cheek . This lifts my seat bone away from the saddle and I sit on my right one. By drifting out away from this pressure on the right side of the saddle, Abbey is doing exactly what my body is asking her to (poor pony!).

So for the remainder of the lesson I concentrated on keeping one muscle relaxed….trying to unlearn 20 years of muscle memory is darn hard!

Next up for scrutiny was my upper body and my restless left hand. When my left is the outside rein, Abbey is subjected to a contact that is certainly not consistent and when it’s my inside hand she suffers from nagging.

The ah-ha! moment only came when Sam asked me to hold my hands up and wide like I was passing someone two cups of tea. This had the added benefit of opening my chest and rolling my shoulders back. Sadly there aren’t any photos but in my head I looked like Charlotte Dujardin!