Hippoi Athanatoi

A Bit of Extra Riding

While the spring semester at the riding school ended two weeks ago, the group that I ride in had agreed on having a extra three-day course as past of the various summer courses and holiday camps offered at the stables. So, we were booked in to ride Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Of course, it turned into just Monday and Wednesday for me, since the Pet Shop Boys just had to schedule their first concert in Gothenburg for ages and ages for Tuesday.

I had put down Murphy as my first choice, but since they had other courses during the day and one of them included jumping, I ended up with Heddvig instead. She was my second choice, though, so I was happy with that too. I was also happy to hear that she will be staying with us for at least a year longer; she’s on lease as opposed to having been bought. I was a little concerned that the very hot weather we have been having would be hard on her; she’s all black, has lots of mane and tail and is not all that fit yet. In fact, she’d managed to put on a bit of the weight she had lost after coming to us after just a few days of summer grazing.

However, when I led her out of the stables the first day, she felt as if she had been grazing on rocket fuel. She was so frisky, and she continued like that once down in the arena too. Fortunately, it fit well into what we did on Monday, which was to work on getting the horses very sensitive to the aides. We were instructed to switch back and forth between riding them forward and holding them back, so that they’d be a little uncertain about just where we wanted them to be and thus more alert. Eventually, the idea was that they would settle at the midpoint and then stay there with minimal aides needed at that point. Ulrika likened it to riding like “a bumblebee in a bag”.

She started the exercise off by using a longeing whip, holding it first behind each horse and then in front of each horse, so we would feel the reactions. It was interesting, and the part where I almost got thrown off Heddvig because Harry slammed into the wall when she first tried it on him was a little too interesting. ;P Overall, I think it helped me get a better feeling for Heddvig. She listens quite well, and is surprisingly sensitive to all aides, including things like riding a slow rising trot to slow her rhythm.

On Wednesday, we moved onto doing some canter work. I could definitely have used the Tuesday too, to get more of a handle on Heddvig before focusing so much on the cantering, but it actually went pretty well anyway. Well, once I had had some help, that is. We were supposed to start cantering out of a corner, and canter down the length of the arena to the next corner. So far, cantering is not Heddvig’s strong side, and initially I just got a rushed trot and a few strides of canter before it was time to drop back down to a trot again.

Ulrika then suggested that I come into the corner before the canter at a quicker pace, because she just can’t get to a canter from a slower trot yet. This worked very well in one direction. Then we switched, and her canter to the right is the hard one. But with some fiddling like turning her out a bit and just placing the whip on the right side of her chest we finally managed to get it to work two times in a row. Then we called it a day for her, because she was getting very tired.

I think I learned quite a bit about Heddvig these two days, and I think she’s definitely good for working on some of my issues. She also fits me really nicely physically speaking, being short and compact. And she has a fun attitude. At one point, I think she was about to start bucking again when we went back to work after a little break, but we had a little chat about that. She’s definitely strong-willed, though, and has apparently climbed the herd hierarchy real fast. I am just hoping she won’t be too chunky after their month-long vacation throughout July.

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