No Murphy again today, as I had hoped I would get, but finally getting a chance to ride Sammy again was almost as good. Sammy, or Plain Sam as he’s properly named (his sire, btw, is Diamond Lad, who was a pretty well-known Irish stallion), is another of our Irish gentlemen (and, in contrast to Murphy, he’s actually a real gentleman), and currently the oldest horse in the stable at eighteen. He’s been at the riding school for eleven years and he’s an old favourite of mine, so I am always glad when I get a chance to ride him, as he is usually used for the lower groups these days. Partly because he’s so well-behaved, and partly because he only takes lighter riders due to some old injuries.
Of course, the final lesson of the semester often tends to be a little less work-intensive than usual, and once we got down to the arena (after poor Sammy slipped several times on the way down, thanks to the layer of ice-like snow that had appeared during the day) it turned out we had to start by talking about some upcoming changes. Our group, a level IV (out of V) will be disappearing/changing since its been impossible to fill it up enough to be economically viable. They just can’t get enough adult riders for this timeslot, which is very odd since all the other options for adult riders are really late, and that sucks in winter. So, best case scenario, it stays a IV but we get a lot of new junior riders who have just transferred up from a III. It may even end up being called a III, at least until they’ve had more juniors advance beyond level III, but hopefully they won’t need to make it anything lower than a III.
As long as its a III or a IV, I will probably stay in it even if we’ll end up doing much more basic stuff; even if the exercises are simple, I can still work on improving the quality of the exercises, and I can concentrate even more on my seat and aids. The only thing that does suffer more noticeably from a lower difficulty level is the jumping lessons, but I’ll have to save up for some extra jumping during the summer then. And maybe save up for some private lessons during the semester too. I do hope, however, that we don’t get a lot of very small/light riders, and that we will get more of the small and/or ‘easy’ horses (like Murphy) used in our group; that’d almost be worth the other changes. Hopefully, I’ll find out more when I go in for my extra lessons next week.
As far as this lesson went, we decided to do some ‘fun’ exercises. There were only four of us there today, so we divided up onto three overlapping circles and practised keeping an even pace and keeping an eye out for the other three riders. First while trotting and then while cantering. Quite a bit of fun, and concentrating a lot on external stuff can actually help me find a more natural, relaxed seat and keep from fiddling too much with the reins. Essentially, stop me from trying too hard. Of course, Sammy thought it was lots of fun, too, especially as he decided it was some sort of race rather than an exercise where the last thing he was supposed to do was to catch up with the other horse on the same circle as us. After doing this for a while, we then moved on to a small quadrille exercise, where we rode side-by-side in two pairs on a large circle. The horses certainly appreciated this exercise, and since I know Sammy is such a darling I didn’t get the least nervous even when he got quite frisky.
All in all, not a very strenuous lesson, but I loved being back on Sammy and I did manage to get some work in on my seat, which is always a challenge to get right on Sammy as his back favours some draft horse among his ancestors and he has a knack for pushing his rider off to one side when doing circles so that he doesn’t have to soften up properly on the inside. Other than that, he quite enjoys working, and loves doing something different from what’s on offer in the lower level groups.