Hippoi Athanatoi


No Murphy for me today, instead I was put on the other small horse in the stables, Malupin. He’s a nice-looking crossbreed who grew just a centimeter or two too tall to be a pricey competition pony, and so ended up at a riding school instead. Which, given some of his physical problems turns out to have been just as well.

However, even though his papers say horse and not pony, his temper and attitude is all pony—he’s very stubborn, very clever and very good at avoiding work. Fortunately, I am starting to get a grasp of how he works, although I still have a way to go to learn not to be so soft with him. If you give him an inch, he’ll definitely take your whole arm, and look very cute while doing so.

The focus of today’s lesson was, as the title suggests, transitions. On the one hand, this is great work when you’re on Malupin, as it really forces you to concentrate on his cadence (or lack thereof) and on making sure he doesn’t drag his right hindleg behind him as he prefers to do. On the other hand, an exercise that involves a short distance of walking, followed by a short distance of trotting, followed by a another short distance of walking and concluded by a short distance of canter tends to have the same effect on him as a lit match on a powder keg. In short, it didn’t take long before he was trying to trot—or, preferably, canter—as soon as he saw any of the other horses move faster than walk. My nerves do not appreciate that kind of behaviour from a horse.

Still, for the most part I managed to stay calm and use the extra energy—by keeping a firm seat and framing him properly,  so that the only way he was allowed to move was straight ahead—to produce some really nice trot and some decent canter. But towards the end I was getting rather tired, and found it harder and harder to sit back down firmly instead of crouching together a bit and just holding onto his reins, so the finish could have been better than it was.  Overall, I wasn’t too unhappy with the lesson, but I wish we had moved away from the transitions with about 15 minutes left, so that I could have used the collection and rear-end drive I had produced at the time while doing things that didn’t excite him quite so much.

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